By Prof. Rahmat Karim Baig
The craze and history of hunting has been a part of the old culture of Chitral. It was at first due to shortage of food items and had some justification because a man on the verge of starvation could resort to any kind of cruelty and this phase continued for thousands of years but now, at this stage of modern facilities this is nothing less than a lunacy.
The big game as discussed in a previous article was reserved for royal family and its offshoots but hunting birds was open. The poachers did every kind of atrocity to wild life i.e. ibex, Markhor, bears, all kind of birds especially ducks, doves, smaller birds, Chakor. Even eggs of Chakor were carried away from the nests because they were hungry and had no mercy in the core of their hearts for small and helpless birds. Then it was a period of extreme hunger and famines that occurred from time to time but more cunning ways were invented to catch or kill more birds at a time.
I have listened to poachers who killed ibex with a seven day old kid or male kids, pregnant female ibex and Markhor and then boasted of such a merciless act. The control system of the past was for conservation. They had some basic rules such as:
They did not shoot female ibex
They did not shoot young male or kids
They did not hunt in the early spring as the meat was fatless and not tasty but only a few bones.
The young hunters were not allowed to shoot Markhor or ibex for fear of causing them just injuries and wound that may not heal but cause a painful death.
Snow leopards were not molested just on the ground that they would prey big ibex or markhor so the ecology thrived in spite of shooting freely for a couple of months.
All wild life is an essential part of eco system and food chain. Human intervention and especially uncontrolled shooting even by small boys is dangerous not only for wild life but for humans as many young men have lost their lives or limbs due to inadvertence in the use of fire arms.
Killing of the endangered wild life like snow leopard has to be controlled strictly and in this case the Gujoor tribes who have spread all over Chitral play role in collusion with local poachers. The wildlife dept. Is requested to be more active and engage more temporary staff for peak shooting seasons.