Birds from Russia, once annual visitors to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, no longer find the province homey.
“Birds migrate to friendly environments and unfortunately we no longer offer such an environment,” said wildlife conservator Safdar Ali Shah, while talking to The Express Tribune.
Sounds of blasts and gunshots have left these birds too scared to come back. “How can birds live in regions where even humans are not safe?” Shah questioned. The Russian birds follow a cyclical pattern of migration, flying from Russia to Kyrgyzstan, then to Afghanistan and then across the border to Pakistan.
Because of militancy and a large number of no-go areas, hunting has also increased, Shah said. “No department has been more effected than the wildlife department, because where there is wild life and forests there are militants.”
Wildlife DFO Muhammad Niaz said that people do not know about the extinction of rare species of birds like Chargh, Peasants Falcons and Waterfowls. ”People hunt them for meat without knowing how much they contribute to our ecosystem.” At the same, the number of scavenger birds like kites, and crows is increasing.
“We have 455 different species of birds sheltered in different parts of the province, of which nearly six species are rare,” he said.
Officials at the wildlife department said there are no ornithologists in the province and no plan has been made to make the environment more conducive for the birds. They added that the department has established nature clubs at schools and planned programmes for hunters to increase awareness about the problem.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s Principal Veterinary Officer Dr Muhammad Israr said that diseases like Bird Flu and Malaria, which are found in nearly all species of birds, have increased the number of deaths. According to Israr, insecticides and pesticides are the main cause of deaths and massive migration.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 4th, 2012.