Tuesday, January 29, 2008

PAKISTAN NEWS: Poachers Killing Endangered Deer

Foreign guests belonging to Gulf States have been found involved in killing protected animals with the connivance of local influentials. While the Sindh Wildlife Department remains silent over the matter, The News has learnt that the illegal hunting of animals including deer [Ed. note - hog deer, Axis porcinus?] — on the list of protected animals according to SWD Act 1972 — is going on unchecked. Most influential people along with their foreign guests have reportedly killed 38 deer in Thar Desert, near Umarkot.

The wide desert area, including Achhro Thar (White Desert), near Pakistan-India border, is a natural habitat of this endangered species. Locals explain that deer cross the border into Pakistan territory in winter and monsoon seasons every year. “The animal usually comes to the other side early morning and poachers kill the animal at its entrance site,” Amar Leghari, a local environmentalist from Sanghar, told The News.

“It is a natural grazing field for the deer in Thar linking Umerkot, Sanghar, Nawabshah and Khairpur districts. Only local people know the habitats, who lead the poachers after taking big amounts from them,” he said.

Reports add that the Sindh Wildlife Department officials deputed there, after possessing skins and other evidence arrested some poachers but later released them after the high-ranking people approached higher authorities.

Only the workers of these influential people were arrested, while those with direct links to the corridors of power were excluded from the report registered by the officials. Later, the SWD local officials were hushed up over the issue of challenging the most powerful people, activists said.

Local people explain that the influential poachers pay attractive sums to traditional foot-trackers to kill these wild animals.

On contracts, local activists explain, “it is routine crime. These people hailing from Gulf States set up camps in these areas for some time in the winter and kill endangered species, including deer and houbara bustard along with the local influential people. According to the activist, this time around the media has taken notice of the situation because political rivals have raised the issue against a candidate, who was the host of these foreign and local guests and arranged the hunting.

The SWD department issues licenses to poachers after receiving prescribed fees for hunting birds from November to March 15 every year. But they are not allowed to kill the endangered species in their habitats.

In case of violation of the rules, the poachers can be fined amounts ranging from Rs100,000 to Rs500,000, depending on the nature of destruction.

When The News approached the Sindh Wildlife Conservator, his subordinates said he was unavailable, while the other officials claim that they are unaware of the crime.

Source: http://www.thenews.com.pk/print1.asp?id=93689

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