KARACHI: Residents of Naushero Feroz were taken by surprise on Sunday when birds started falling from the sky in the middle of the day.
It was only later that they realised that a flock of birds, out of the thousands that were on their way to Siberia, had fainted because of the heat and had fallen in Pudeen and its surrounding areas. Over the past three days, the birds had been attracting large crowds of people as some fell in the streets while others fell in people’s houses. Sources revealed, however, that some residents allegedly decided to make a sport of them and starting hunting the fowl. While some caged the birds and put them on display, others decided to kill them.
In an attempt to free the caged migratory birds, officials from the World Wildlife Federation were dispatched to a number of areas in the district on Tuesday to investigate the matter. They were unable, however, to find any entrapped bird. Even though news circulated across the city that some of the birds had been hunted, caged and slaughtered by the residents of the area, Deedar Hussain from the Sindh Wildlife Department said that they were nothing but rumours. “It was very hot and the birds fell into the houses of some of the villagers. And while it is true that not all villagers have turned the birds over to us, there has been no hunting.
Moreover, many villagers gave the poor creatures water and tried to get them to fly away,” said Hussain, adding that the birds were too tired and therefore had to be kept in the departmental office till they could recover enough to take flight once again. “There is no hunting in our areas. And these birds do not even visit dry areas like Naushero Feroz. They live on the sea shore and can be spotted at Manchar or Thatta,” said Hussain. He added that the rumours had been circulated by the media without any proof. “We sent our men to the areas where the media alleged that the birds had been hunted. Our men are still there. There was no hunting.
It is like the news that we received yesterday that a tiger had been shot dead. We had to rush out in the middle of the night, only to discover that it was an Alsatian [dog],” said Hussain. He added that the media had also exaggerated the numbers. “They were not in thousands, as was reported. There were some 10 or 20 birds at the most.” Sources revealed, however that the Sindh Wildlife Department was trying to avoid responsibility, which is why its representatives were denying that the birds were being hunted. “Around 1,200 birds landed near Kalhora and the Padidan airport to drink water when people in the area caught some of them and slaughtered them,” said sources, adding that some of them weighed up to 10 kilogrammes.” They added that their beaks had been tied to stop the birds from defending themselves.
The Siberian birds weigh between eight and 10 kilogrammes. Their beaks are around 16 inches long and their webbed feet are small in comparison to the rest of their body. Their largest features are their wings that propel the birds to take flight in a manner similar to that of an airplane. WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY MUJEEB REHMAN
Published in the Express Tribune, May 26th, 2010.