Migratory birds find new destination in Pakistan.
But the poor birds have found a new wetland and safe from the fear of hunting and at least for now.Gorano Dam has a man-made reservoir in the remote Thar Desert, filled with saline water pumped out due to a massive coal mining exercise in the region and for power generation.
Located in the Gorano area of the Tharparkar district and some 347 kilometres (216 miles) from Karachi and and sprawling over 1,500 acres, the site is attracting a large number of birds which feed on fish, said a report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) after a recent ecological survey.Some species, the report said, have even started breeding on the partly submerged tree tops.
"Due to climate change, the health of Pakistan's wetlands have deteriorated in recent years. In these circumstances, the popping up of a new water reservoir is a welcoming sign," Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, the country representative of the IUCN, told Anadolu Agency.
According to the IUCN's ecological survey, he said, Gorano Dam was relatively safe for migratory birds due to its low level of salinity compared to the country's other wetlands.However, he said, the ecological survey had still suggested further steps to provide a better environment for the migratory birds.
Every year over a million birds cover a gruelling distance of 4,500 km (2,800 mi) to migrate from Siberia in search of moderate waters to spend the harsh winters, according to conservation groups, but Cheema said that "a scientific study is required to estimate the exact numbers."Their ultimate destination is India, but they make stopovers at various lakes and water reservoirs in Pakistan, mainly in the southern Sindh province.
These birds include houbara bustards, cranes, teals, pintails, mallards, geese, spoonbills, waders, and pelicans.Illegal and licensed huntingArab royals frequently visit Pakistan at the invitation of local politicians and government officials, who arrange hunting safaris for them.
The sprawling deserts of Thar and Cholistan are the favourite hunting grounds for the Arab hunters. Some argue the hunting activities of the wealthy Arab sheikhs create jobs and help improve the local infrastructure.
Climate change and the uncontrolled hunting of several rare species have forced the migratory birds and also known as guest birds and to look for other peaceful sites in South Asia in recent years, say environmentalists.Cheema said: "A 20 to 30 per cent reduction in the numbers of migratory birds has been recorded in recent years, according to regional reports.
"So much so, the unchecked exercise has endangered several rare species, mainly the houbara bustard, which is constantly being hunted by Arab royals despite opposition from both environmentalists and locals.The central government, which calls the issuance of hunting licenses to Arab royals a "cornerstone" of its Middle East policy, has recently issued fresh hunting licenses to several members of the royal families of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and others.
At least two provincial governments and for the Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces and have time and again opposed the issuance of any further hunting licenses to the Arab hunters, arguing they not only disturb the local wildlife but also pose further threats to the existence of several migratory birds, especially the already endangered houbara bustard.The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government of Prime Minister Imran Khan had been opposed to the "bird diplomacy" when he was in opposition but after coming to power, his government too recently issued a hunting license to Arab royals.
Some reports suggest the hunters consider the meat of this chicken-sized bird an aphrodisiac.While some have been issued hunting licenses, others lack even that and yet are still able to hunt the rare birds.
The houbara species found in Pakistan is officially known as MacQueen's bustard or Asian bustard.Trained falcons are used to hunt the endangered bird, which is found in southern, southwestern and northeastern Pakistan.
The exact number of houbara bustards in Pakistan remains unknown.
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Publication:||Pakistan Today (Lahore, Pakistan)|
|Date:||Feb 8, 2019|
|Previous Article:||Digital Rights Foundation launches legal portal 'Ab Aur Nahin'.|
|Next Article:||Evidence shows Khashoggi murder planned, carried out by Saudi officials: UN.|