Call to revive annual winter fowl survey
KARACHI: Almost all migratory birds are hunted in Pakistan. Continued killing of these birds for many years has led to a steep decline in the number of some species, stated the World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-P) in a message on the eve of World Migratory Birds Day, emphasising the need for steps to conserve birds’ habitat and create awareness of their ecological importance.
The organisation also called for the annual winter fowl survey earlier carried out with regularity, but which has now been discontinued.
This year’s theme is ‘Their Future is our Future — A Healthy Planet for Migratory Birds and People’.
According to the organisation, Pakistan lies at a crossroads for bird migration with its wetlands attracting high numbers of birds annually in the winter season.
These birds arrive through the international migration route known as the Indus Flyway, from Siberia and over the Karakoram, Hindu Kush, and Suleiman Ranges along the Indus River down to the delta and include a wide variety of ducks and waders, houbara bustard, cranes, teals, pintail, mallard, geese, spoon bills, raptors, and passerines such as warblers, pipits and buntings.
Some species including common and Demoiselle cranes, snipe and pelican enter via Kurram Agency in Fata.
“Unfortunately, these majestic birds, which play a crucial role to keep nature healthy for us, are ruthlessly hunted and killed during their stay in the country. This led to a steep decline in the number of species like the white-eyed pochard, marbled teal and garganey,” it says.
Highlighting the case of migratory cranes, the organisation says that the bird is hunted because of its size, beauty and unique calls.
“In Balochistan, hundreds of cranes are trapped in Zhob and Lasbela (Sonmiani and Saranda Lake area) and transported in inhumane conditions to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where they are kept as pets.
“Many die during trapping and transportation. Cranes are also hunted in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, though their number has declined there,” it says.
WWF-P expert Mohammed Moazzam Khan believed that climate change was also affecting bird migration.
“Wintering birds used to arrive in October. However, for the past few years, they now arrive in November. It seems that the migration trends of birds are changing and the duration of their stay in Pakistan has decreased substantially, mainly on account of their hunting and habitat loss,” he said.