20 red-legged partridges released in Kirthar park | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

20 red-legged partridges released in Kirthar park

Pakistan Press Foundation

KARACHI: The 20 red-legged partridges, commonly known as Chakors, that were found in a passenger bus at the Mochko checkpoint near Baldia Town have been released into Kirthar National Park on Wednesday evening.

According to Sindh Wildlife Department game officer Abdul Rasheed Khan, the birds were hidden in boxes inside a passenger bus, which was making its way to Karachi from Quetta. The Rangers men who were conducting snap-checks at Mochko found these boxes on Tuesday morning.

“The bus was supposed to drop these birds in Karachi,” said Khan. The paramilitary personnel questioned the passengers but were unable to find anyone who owned the boxes. The driver told them that they were merely transporting cargo. Later, the Rangers men took the boxes into custody without detaining anyone and let the bus go.

Khan pointed out, however, that the bus driver and the conductor become co-accused in such situations. The security personnel have now been requested to detain at least the conductor of the bus in case this happens in the future, he said. “We need to trace the real culprits as most of the smugglers do not travel on these buses.”

The birds are often smuggled from Quetta to Karachi. “Balochistan is its [natural] habitat,” said the wildlife department’s provincial conservator, Saeed Akhtar Baloch. Similar kinds of species are also found in the hilly areas of Sindh that are adjacent to Balochistan, he added.

According to the Sindh Wildlife Act 1972, a first offence report has been lodged against unknown smugglers. The wildlife department will start an investigation.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, Baloch said that the compensation amount is Rs15,000 on the entire consignment, according to the act. But, he added, the value of the property will be included in the fine. If the smugglers of the 20 chakors are caught, they will have to pay a fine of Rs35,000, he estimated.

Chakors are in high demand in different parts of the city, said the conservator, adding that most people just keep these birds as pets at their homes. “It is one of the most beautiful birds in Pakistan,” he said. “The demand in Karachi is very high but one can hardly find red-legged partridges in markets due to strict vigilance,” he claimed.

All birds and animals traders in Karachi have already been directed to refrain from trading in rare and protected species, pointed out Baloch.

Baloch’s optimism is somewhat dampened by the fact that animal traders in the city are feared by wildlife officials, who are reluctant to take action against them due to their political backing. A wildlife team conducted a raid at Empress Market – the city’s largest pet market – in August last year but was unable to achieve any significant results. “It is very risky to conduct a raid in a market like this,” said the raid team’s Karachi head, Babu Palari. There are hundreds of dealers who can harm the few officials carrying out the raid, he explained.

Express Tribune