Siberian migratory birds’ hunting; the number dwindles with each passing year

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By Rafiullah Mandokhail

ZHOB: Zhob valley falls in the international migration corridor of Siberian migratory birds. Twice every year thousands of cranes congregate near (Darya-e-Zhob) that flows in a few kilometers of the city and fells into the Gomal River. The bank of the river is an important stopover on the cranes’ long migration route from and to Siberian cold and snowy forests.

The trapping of Siberian migratory birds including cranes and quails has been started and the birds are returning back from their native abode after spending summer. Soon after the birds arrived the valley, poachers have set up their hunting camps and started trapping of these guest birds. The District administration and Forest and wildlife department claim to have launched a crackdown against the illegal crane hunting in different parts of the district.

According to the Deputy Conservator Wildlife department Karam Khan Jalazai, Chief Justice Balochistan High Court Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail taking keen interest and support the authorities concerned to protect and conserve the wildlife.

“Deputy Commissioner Shehak Baloch, Additional Deputy Commissioner Syed Salaha-ud-Din Agha, Superintendent Police Fahad Khosa, Assistant Commissioner Arif Kakar and SHO Sher Ali Mandokhail also supported the department and provided the police and Levies personnel during raids on hunting camps,” adding the officials raided the hunting camps, destroyed and set them ablaze in Garda Babar, Khwasti, Zhob River, Badinzai, Musakhwal and Sabakzai areas despite the limited resources as the department lacks funds, vehicles and staff. He lamented.

The Domicile cranes known as Anthropoides Virgo pass through Zhob. In recent years, the cranes have been ruthlessly trapped, that is why the population of cranes has been dwindled.

Extremely chilly weather in Siberian forests compels the precious birds to fly and access to a moderate weather. These ‘ambassadors of peace’ know no boundaries; their flocks fly across the rivers, mountains and deserts to get their destination. Their perilous journey starts from Siberia in September-October and after spending winter by the end of March-April, the cranes fly back to their native habitats. They make stopovers at lakes, river banks and water basins in many parts of the country.

The hunters take a pair of tamed cranes in a cage to the hunting spot at night and then separate male from female ones before the arrival of flying cranes. Soon after the pair starts crying the flying birds hear their cries being deceived by their decoy cranes come down to low altitude and close to them. As they come down, the hunters throw a swirling iron weight tied to thread on the flock to entangle the flying cranes in the necks, wings and feet. Some times the armed hunters shoot down the birds with fire arms. Besides this the hunters also use birds mp3 voices recorded from the tamed birds – to lure the migrating flocks.

According to experts, the long-necks, long-legs, long rounded wings and streamline body cranes, live and breed near water. The cranes fly and honk simultaneously and can live two to three decades freely, but much longer while in captivity. The birds fly in flocks led by guides with their forceful voices. Vanishing forests, drying up lakes and unrestrained hunting are the major causes behind their rapid decline.

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