Farmers say illegal hunting of bustards ruining crops
BHAKKAR: Despite a ban by the Supreme Court on hunting of bustards, farmers in Bhakkar district claim that the Wildlife Department has been facilitating hunters in shooting down the protected birds in their area.
They say that their crops were being damaged because of this and feared that they will not be compensated for the loss. The farmers have said that officials of the Wildlife Department and the local administration accompany the hunters on their trips and provide them protection.
Prince Ahmad bin Jasim of Qatar, and his relatives, visit Bhakkar, Khushab, Layyah, Chobara, Munkera and Noorpur Thal between December and February to hunt bustards. Residents of Bhakkar said that these royals are provided complete protocol by the police and the Wildlife Department.
Local farmers have said that the gram crop is harvested once a year. They say the crop grown on 100 square km is destroyed during the hunting season. Neither the government nor the hunters pay for the damage they cause, they say.
When asked about the hunting activities, officials of the Wildlife Department and the district police spokesperson said that there was no illegal hunting activity in Mankera. They said that the Wildlife Department had arranged a training session for hunters, which is why they had accompanied them.
The Supreme Court banned the hunting of houbara bustards in August 2015. The government moved a review petition later requesting that the ban be lifted.
A government official said that the government had moved the petition to resume hunting of the migratory bird by dignitaries of Middle Eastern countries, who visited Pakistan each year. He said the dignitaries often financed various uplift programmes in under-developed areas.
The bird migrates from northern areas of the country to Thal desert each year during the gram season.
The Jasim Foundation, a charity organisation funded by Prince Ahmad bin Jasim, has announced plans to build a hospital and educational institutes. A contract in this regard has been signed by the foundation and the government. More than 600 kanals land in Jhang, Bhakkar and Khushab has been transferred to the foundation but work has not yet started.
The projects include a 100-bed hospital for Hyderabad Thal and four branches of the hospital in adjoining areas. The foundation also announced that it would build schools in Hyderabad Thal, Goharwala, Barari, Jhang district and Noorpur Thal in Khushab district.