Dozens of migratory birds have been found dead at Tarbela lake, residents said on Monday. Wildlife Department officials suspect the birds might have eaten something poisonous.
The figures, however, are contested. While the Wildlife Department claims only six Siberian ducks have been found dead, residents say the figures ran in double digits or more.
Dildar Khan, an Afghan national living in a nearby refugees camp, told journalists that he saw dozens of dead birds on the banks of the lake near Khalabat Township Sunday afternoon and informed the wildlife authorities.
A local farmer said he saw nearly a hundred dead birds. He believes they were poisoned by someone who was trying to scare them off so they stayed away from his wheat crop on the reclaimed land.
The Wildlife Department’s sub-divisional officer, Abdur Rasheed, said he had the dead birds picked up from the lake and denied reports which claimed that more than six ducks were killed. He added that the dead birds have been sent to a Peshawar laboratory to determine the cause of their death. He added that other birds who frequent the region were safe and healthy.
Rasheed said an investigation was under way and if any local farmer was found guilty of poisoning the birds, the department would lodge an FIR against him under the Wildlife Act of 1975. He added that if found guilty by a court of law, the convict could face a fine and jail term.
Tarbela lake in Haripur is the largest lake in the country and serves as a temporary habitat for migratory birds, including Siberian ducks, that fly in every winter.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 25th, 2014.
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