Death from falling stones: Village conservation body to also compensate victim’s family

CHITRAL, Sept 24: The Boryough village conservation committee (VCC) president Mir Hussain on Tuesday said it was the basic responsibility of his organisation to protect the village from boulders rolling down the mountainous pasture. The boulders roll down the mountains due to the movement of the wildlife, especially Kashmir markhor. In the picture below, markhors have descended into an agricultural field in the Boryough village in Garam Chashma.

Mir Hussain said his organisation would pay compensation to the families of the woman of four children, who were killed by a boulder earlier in the week. The VCC president said the committee had a substantial amount of money as saving from the hunting permits of trophy hunting of markhor.

He said the money could have been used to put up a stonewall to stop boulders from rolling down the mountains but “we’d never thought of it.”Mir Hussain said under the procedure, a resolution was passed by most committee members to be formally ratified by the divisional forest officer of the wildlife department and that the community was free to begin development projects.

He said due to the conservation process, the population of markhor and other species of wildlife was on steep rise in the conservancy over the last couple of decades, which had become a major danger for villagers. When contacted, DFO (wildlife) Imtiaz Hussain said 80 percent of permit fee of markhor trophy hunting went to the VCC, which used the money for wildlife welfare.

He said last year, the hunting permit of a markhor in Chitral was sold for Rs9.95 million and it was due to that fact that the VCCs established by the wildlife department heavily guarded the animal in their respective areas against poaching.

The DFO said a screen between the village and the pasture was inevitable to save markhor from going into wheat fields for food. He said the markhor going into the fields could face danger to their health and life as farmers used fertilisers and pesticides for their crops. Imtiaz Hussain said markhor also faced the danger of contracting illness from domestic goats of the village when they got into contact with them in village fields.–Zahiruddin

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