Rahmat Karim Baig

Threats to ibex population in Chitral Upper

Prof. Rahmat Karim Baig

The main and side valleys of Upper Chitral were formerly in the control of Jagirdars and they appointed their men – shikari – who controlled poaching and a poacher was fined  heavily if found red handed but often even on suspicions. When the wildlife staff was introduced in the 70s they were given oath to abstain from collusion with poachers but now they have.

Some wildlife watchers are side businessmen and drive taxis and have forgotten that they are govt. servants with specific duties while others sit in their shops and extort salary from the department. They only get shooting fee in the duck shooting season and that was not the idea behind all this exercise.

The district administration sits idle and dozes off days. The heavy loss to ibex flocks in the side valleys of Torkho and Terich is in condemnable stage. The watcher where his duty has been assigned does not budge. He gets his share in the bag and before its digestion another cache arrives at his door. The responsible officials are few and are kept away from this nefarious game because they become an obstacle for the poachers and the corrupt staff.

The loss to ibex population is beyond description and measures have to be taken to fix the duty of all concerned. There are high quality rifles hidden in the game reserves and more and more huts are being built by poachers to accelerate the hunting race – a mafia of a dozen men who are known to civil administration. 

 The Gujoors who herd their own flocks also graze the goats of some families of the community, are also involved in this poaching and they keep rifles in their huts at great altitude and hunt freely.  Their huts have to be raided and searched to search the rifles by the honest staff members of the department concerned. The poachers have to be bridled or there will be no ibex to be seen in near future.

The watchers never visit the game reserves because it is against their interests. The pay they get is a ‘stipend’ from the department. The heads of the districts have to take honest notice of the situation and get report from sources to control poaching just like the action the administration is taking action against encroachments because this is also a type of encroachment.

The real responsibility lies on the shoulders of the chief conservator KP. He never minds this side of his duty but moves after high profile receptions and VIP level participation in events which is not one of his headaches. We have never heard chief conservator in Chitral upper to see the goings or the problems faced by the wild life watchers. The area of this district is wide and has numerous side valleys and the number of watchers is few to, even for honest staff.

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