Heavy snow forces Ibexes to descend to villages

CHITRAL: The population of ibex is said to be highly exposed to poaching in different villages of Yarkhun valley due to heavy snowfall and shortage of wildlife department’s field staff.

Due to the heavy snowfall in the valley last week, hordes of ibex have descended to the peripheries of the villages in search of food and shelter where they become easy target of poachers.

There is only one watcher for a cluster of six villages of the valley, which makes it impossible for him to keep a vigilant eye on the poachers.

Sher Wali Khan Aseer, a resident of Yarkhun, said due to conservation efforts, population of ibex had increased considerably. He praised the local people for showing responsibility and discouraging poaching.

Haider Khan, another resident of the valley, said the wildlife department had yet to organise village conservation committees (VCCs) in the valley which had proved to be a best tool in the conservation process, making the community involved as a shareholder.

He said the experience of VCCs had proved to be highly productive as it had been observed that the best way of conservation was to engage the locals, but the wildlife department head did not bother to visit the Yarkhun valley which supports a rich biodiversity.

He said abysmally low strength of staff in the valley showed that the department was indifferent towards Yarkhunn as well as Broghil valley.

Mr Khan said there were a good number of trophy-sized ibexes in the valley’s mountains but the department did not consider them while giving permits for trophy hunting as there was no VCC in the valley.

Published in Dawn, January 28th, 2019

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