LAHORE: The first large scale survey of Punjab’s urial population has been completed. The results of the survey will be unveiled in the next few days.
Officials from the Punjab wildlife department, affiliated community based organisations (CBOs) and representatives from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and other international organisations participated in the survey.
Meanwhile, a notification for legally hunting urials is likely to be issued by December 1. International hunters will also be able to participate in hunting urials.
A survey of Punjab’s urial population has been conducted in the province’s Potohar region. Reportedly, the survey began during the past month. This is the first such initiative of its kind in Pakistan, where efforts have been made to ascertain the exact number of animals in the species by using modern techniques.
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Punjab Wildlife Department Honorary Game Warden Badar Munir stated that representatives from the department, WWF, the Snow Leopard Foundation, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and several CBOs participated in the survey.
Punjab’s urial typically reside near the Salt Range, especially in Chakwal, Jhelum, Khushab, Mianwali and Attock, he explained.
“During the survey, these locations were divided into various sections so that the survey could be conducted according to the rules and regulations specified at an international level,” he said. The latest cameras were also used during the survey, he added.
Munir maintained that the main objective of the survey is to ascertain the number of urials within the province. He expressed joy over the fact that the number has increased in the past few years and attributed this to the efforts of CBOs. “This has also helped in reducing illegal hunting,” he said.
He maintained that proposals have been forwarded to increase the fines and punishment for illegal hunting.
According to wildlife officials, the total number of urials in Punjab was estimated to be 450 in 2004. Another survey was conducted in 2018 and the numbers had increased to 3,700. In the survey that has been conducted recently, the numbers have seen a substantial increase. However, the exact figure has still not been revealed.
Munir said that after the survey is wrapped up, licences for legally hunting urials from December 1 to March 31 will be issued. International hunters, as well as locals, will be able to participate in hunting the coveted animal. However, all will be able to do so under the rules set by the Punjab wildlife department. According to these rules, it is illegal to hunt female urials.Villagers raise alarm as snow leopard kills 25 sheep in Gilgit-Baltistan
Speaking to The Express Tribune, wildlife officials highlighted that the department will charge international hunters $17,000 while locals will have to pay Rs0.5 million.
They added that only those animals which are near the end of their lifespan are allocated for hunting purposes. They explained that the average lifespan of urials is 12 to 13 years. They reasoned that even if the animal is not hunted, it will eventually die.
Further, older males can become an obstacle in letting younger males mate with females, they added. Approximately 80% of the cash collected from the hunting trophy is disbursed to CBOs operating in the province for wildlife conservation efforts, they said.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 5th, 2019.