Saturday August 13, 2022

Protect the hunted

By Editorial Board
July 18, 2022

That the people of Thar have dedicated a graveyard for the nine rare chinkara deer that were hunted and killed a few weeks back by five hunters in a village in Thar is an encouraging sign that there is a spirit and understanding of conservation of wildlife among locals. In fact, after the deer were hunted, bravely villagers had pursued the hunters and forced three of them to surrender; those three men are in police custody and their bail pleas have been rejected. The killing of the rare deer in Thar points to the larger issue regarding wildlife conservation as well as animal welfare in the country.

Poachers and illegal hunters are openly allowed to operate in protected sanctuaries in the country where animals should be kept safe for the preservation of the environment and the many species that make this planet habitable. Sadly, this happens almost nowhere in our country. After all, let us not forget that even protecting rare wildlife is a dangerous task, as seen in the tragic case of Nazim Jokhio who was killed attempting to highlight illegal Houbara hunting in his district in Sindh. The locals of the Thar village where the deer hunt took place have displayed an awareness that needs to be supported by the authorities and the government. This is where the state has been a complete failure. There has to be a dedicated effort to prevent such brutality against species which desperately need to be preserved. Pakistan is already in danger of losing its dwindling population of the Houbara bustard and different species such as the snow leopard, of which only a few now exist. Most such hunts are also intended both for the purposes of trophy gathering while foreign hunters take away their kill to their own lands. But action has to be taken and the entire process of illegal hunting must be brought to an end as quickly as possible and before precious animal life is destroyed.

The failure to protect our natural habitat is a problem which will haunt us in the coming years as Pakistan faces climate change. In this regard, the recent announcement by the head of the Prime Minister’s Strategic Reforms Unit, Salman Sufi, that the government is going to introduce a number of reforms for animal welfare in Pakistan is a welcome step. Hopefully, this will include the issue of the dwindling wildlife in the country.