Peshawar: Provincial Minister for Environment, Forests and Wildlife Department Syed Ishtiaq Urmar here on Sunday said the KP government had adopted zero tolerance against unlawful hunting of migratory birds and wildlife by mobilising field staff to save endangered houbara, falcons, cranes and ducks from poachers and hunters during winter season in the province.

“We have mobilised the field staff of wildlife department in all divisions of Khyber Pakthunkhwa especially in southern districts after the start of winter season of migratory birds including Houbara Bustard, Falcons, Cranes and ducks to Pakistan from Central Asian Republics due to dropping of temperatures in those countries and increase of flora, weeds and insects in our province courtesy to PTI’s Govt flagship billion trees afforestation project (BTAP).

The field staff were directed to increase patrolling in all those areas where migratory birds arrive from Mongolia, Siberia and Central Asian Republics (CARs) in November and December.

These migratory birds are crossing Chitral, Charsadda, Mohmand, Dir, Bajaur and mostly stay in Peshawar, Kohat, Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan, Lakki Marwat, Dera Ghazi Khan, Rahim Yar Khan and onwards to the Cholistan desert during winter season.

Scientifically known as macqueeni houbara, the districts of D.I. Khan, Tank, Rahim Yar Khan, D.G. Khan and arid areas of southern Punjab provide rich diversity of flora, fauna, insects and weeds to the houbara population and other migratory birds.

Wildlife experts said houbaras are very sensitive birds and will not use the route again if they sense any danger on their way during the first journey. Houbara gives birth to only two chicks a year, but the elder kills the younger one due to the fear of sharing food. In case the houbara looses its mate, it takes three to five years to find a new one.

The population travels in groups with a leader. Once they loose their chief, the deputy guides the group to reach its destination.

The minister said wildlife staff in houbara favourite areas were directed to conduct patrolling in rivers, lakes, canals and ponds areas on regular basis and take strict action against illegal hunters besides imposing heavy fine under wildlife laws.

He said last month swift action was taken against Falcons hunters in Kohat and DI Khan where seven previous Falcons worth million rupees were seized.

The minister said 10 precious falcons were released in the air near Peshawar Motorway Toll Plaza on October 23, 2019 by the Wildlife Department in his presence.

KP is a unique province of Pakistan bestowed with species of about 98 mammals, 456 birds and 43 reptiles largely dependent on 4500 plants, insects and weeds available in abundance in forests areas owing to an internationally recognised BTAP.