Farmers seek protection against rising wolf population

CHITRAL, Sept 3: The increasing Himalayan wolf population in buffer zone area of Chitral Gol National Park continues to attack and devour bulls of local farmers on the pasture where they are left to graze freely for months in summer season. wolfA number of affected farmers told this correspondent that they had suffered heavy losses this year, as their cattle were killed by predators roaming in large number on the pasture. One Maqsud Baig of Bakamak village said that after searching for his missing bull, he found its tail and head in the centre of a grassy field with its other remains and blood. Usually the villagers release their bulls in May every year and bring them back in September while they go turn by turn to the pasture every week to take care of their livestock. Another affected farmer of Ochusht village, Sharafat Khan who lost his bull on the pasture, said that he used the bull to till his mountainous piece of land where tractors could not reach. He said that attack of wolves on free grazing bulls used to be a rare incident in past, but this year it happened frequently and several farmers had lost their animals. The number of bulls left to free grazing on the pasture is estimated to be around 800, the farmers said, adding that a large number of them hastened to herd them back to their homes before the scheduled time. The farmers said that they could not kill the wolves due to strict wildlife laws which did not allow them to do so and the option left for them was to bring their animals back or to guard them residing on the pasture, which was not possible. Ejaz Ahmed, a biodiversity specialist working in a government department, confirmed the presence of a large number of Himalayan wolves in the area known as West Bank Conservancy of Chitral. “Though the hordes of wolves may have inflicted loss on farmers, their presence in a certain area indicates its sound ecosystem,” he said. When contacted, divisional forest officer of Gol National Park Shakeel Ahmed, however, expressed his ignorance about the exact population of wolves and said that he had not been informed by his staff about this. He was also not sure about the population of wolves inside the national park. Also, no census of the population of carnivores has ever been carried out.–Zahiruddin  ]]>

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