CHITRAL, Dec 23: The population of Himalayan wolf (canis lupus) is fast declining in the pastures of both upper and lower Chitral situated at the foot of Hindu Kush.
Shafiqullah Khan, a wildlife consultant working with NGOs here, told this correspondent on Sunday that the animal used to have a considerable population in Chitral only two decades ago and in this regard it was second to only snow leopard.
Enumerating reasons for the depleting population of wolf in Chitral, he mentioned its ruthless killing to ward it off from the livestock being grazed in the pastures. The favourite food of wolf was ibex the population of which in the local pastures was also on decline, which could be one reason for drop in the wolf population, he said.
Mr Khan said that whenever the wolf come to human settlements in search of food or attack a herd of cattle in the pastures, it was hunted down by the shepherd who usually carried automatic weapons. He said that in past such attacking animals were driven away simply by throwing stones at them.
“We have now deprived the precious wild animal of its natural habitat and food,” he said and added that many dens of wolves could be found in the mountainous terrains. In winter season in past a bevy of wolves would attack snow-clad human settlements in search of food and lift the cattle after breaking open cattle pens during night.
Gulab Shah of Rech valley recalls that earlier villagers used to remain alert to ward off attacking wolves, but during the past two decades no such incident had been reported in the valley.
Wolf has been a quite popular wild beast in Chitral and in areas people would name their sons after it like Shapir (wolf) Khan, Shapir Shah, etc. Gul Nawaz, a writer, said old local literature also carried the description of wolf in folklores and songs, but now this practice had disappeared.–Dawn