Prof Rahmat Karim Baig
This write up is intended to clarify certain misgivings that have been hatched by a gang of hunters who have been involved in the genocide of wildlife, especially ibex and markhor in the hills of Chitral. It is not a new development. This was also busy even in the reign of the rulers of Chitral i.e. before 1954 but such poachers were fined heavily but today due to the reconnaissance of wildlife watchers the mafia has taken to novel tactics.
The wildlife division of Chitral has to watch a very large area of mountains and a small number of watchers cannot reach every nook and corner of the district. VCC/VCSDO Zondrangram appreciates the efforts and determination of the wildlife division Chitral to eradicate the nefarious activities of the ‘shikari mafia’ of Zondrangram where few care for wildlife or environmental degradation and that is the real tragedy and the members of the mafia have already collected rifles of mass destruction, carried them deep into the Roshgol valley where the massacre of ibexes is carried out and these hidden rifles are in the high altitude caves inaccessible to wildlife staff.
Some writers put the blame on the wildlife watchers but it is not true and the network of the ‘shikari mafia’ is in fact, not their fault. The KP Forest/ Wildlife Department should increase the number of watchers and make concerted efforts to bridle the shikari mafia and fines should be much higher than at present.
I have to clarify a misconception forwarded by certain individuals about the work of Snow Leopard Foundation (SLF) based at Islamabad who works with UNDP for the conservation of the endangered specie of snow leopard. As a member of the United Nations, Pakistan is a signatory and bound to extend protection to the endangered species which is found in the northern mountains of the country. The same kind of efforts are made in China to increase the population of panda which is also included in the endangered species.
The SLF works with UNDP and receives funding via the Ministry of Environmental Protection of the federal government. The members of the shikari mafia look at the intervention of the SLF with suspicious eyes as it feels that in case they make their presence in certain areas the mafia may face difficulty in their nefarious designs (killing ibexes) and may fail to bag ibex and markhor so they have stepped up their efforts to attract public attention by spreading false and fake stories of violation of traditional use of pastures. They tell lies and a mass propaganda of novel varieties are heard every other day about such interventions – all of which are baseless, false, fabricated and calculated expediency to misguide innocent and illiterate public and stake holders of the pastures.
This shikari mafia is working for vested interests and is destroying precious wildlife and has to be controlled at any cost. The attack on the rep of SLF and policemen by hooligans with sticks at Zondrangram police chowki is highly condemnable and a blemish on the community of that area. Individuals like Mr. Sultan Wazir, Mr. Nizar Wali Shah etc. are mature persons and responsible citizens of the country and should not play the role of devil’s advocates, must have concerns for environmental issues of the 21st century; and must abstain from supporting ‘shikari mafias’ and gangs even if they belong to their villages or ethnic groups.
This shikari mafia is a dangerous virus for the future of our community who must be curbed and discouraged. The poisonous complex of the past must not be nurtured by educated people but everyone must look towards the future instead of trying to reintroduce the curses of the past which existed under the umbrella of the despotic rulers.