HYDERABAD: Undeterred by the consequences, the game of hunting the rare Chinkara deer continues to attract many people to Tharparkar’s Runn of Kutch sanctuary. It is also listed as a Ramsar site ie wetlands designated as internationally important under the Convention on Wetlands.
On Thursday, December 22, four people including Athar Khaskheli and Saleem Khaskheli were caught hunting a deer by people from the Tejamal village in Nangarparkar. The villagers claimed that the men had already killed a Chinkara deer before they were caught. Sarfaro Thakur, a villager, told The Express Tribune that the suspects had killed a male deer and were chasing others. He added that a few months ago he had also come across Sindh Assembly Speaker Nisar Khuhro hunting in the same area.
ASI Athar Khaskheli and police constable Saleem Khaskheli were handed over to the Sindh Wildlife Department Rangers. They were suspended by DIG Mirpurkhas Ghulam Hyder Jamali on Sunday.
While speaking to the media, he said that they could not and would not tolerate any violations of the law, especially by those people who were supposed to enforce them.
According to Lajpat Maharaj from the wildlife department, they were recording statements of the villagers. He said that the suspects would then be booked under section 14 of the Sindh Wildlife Protection Ordinance of 1972. He added that hunting or killing endangered animals was serious and the suspect could be sent to jail or fined. However, when asked about what would happen to the four suspects, Maharaj said that they would not be sent to jail but will be set free after they pay the fines. He did not disclose how much they would have to pay.
Dharumal Ambrani, a wildlife activist who works with the Society for Conservation and Protection of Environment (SCOPE) in Thar, said that the authorities should not be so lenient towards the hunters. While talking about how unreasonable the fines and punishment were he mentioned an incident where a group of people had illegally caught three peacocks from Thar. He said they were fined Rs3,000 which suggests that the birds were not exotic peacocks but chickens.
So far the Sindh Wildlife Department has not maintained a head count of the Chinkara deer. Ambrani claimed that there were around 3,000 to 5,000 in Tharparkar. He added that the wildlife department claimed that there were 8,000 to 10,000 deer in the area to make it easier for people to hunt. According to Ambrani, those people who enjoyed the sport should be put behind bars to discourage the game.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 28th, 2011.