Birds face extinction in mountainous north


Many species of birds, both resident and migratory, are threatened with extinction in Chitral valley, Pakistan’s scenic mountainous north, according to experts.
Masood Ali, a local biodiversity specialist, said yesterday that the tally of endangered species was fast getting bigger and the situation could worsen if they weren’t conserved without delay. He said Chitral district stretched over 14,850 square kilometres, nestled between Hindukush and Karakoram mountain ranges, and had a wide variation in altitude (1,094 metres in the south to 7,726 metres in the north).
The biodiversity specialist said the Chitral valley provided an ideal habitat for resident and migratory birds.
He said birds migrating from Siberia to Pakistan’s plains in winter season passed through Baroghil Pass area of Chitral, the starting point of the River Indus. Ali said not a single district of the country supported such species of birds totalling 195 and which includes chukar, Himalayan snow-cock, monal pheasant and snow partridges. He blamed the birds’ extinction on rampant hunting, deforestation, environmental degradation and inefficiency of wildlife staff.
The expert said many species of falcons, including peregrine falcon and saker falcon, had been declared the most endangered ones due to excessive hunting for trade.
According to him, several noted species of waterfowls migrating from Siberia to Chitral in the early days of spring season and ruthlessly hunted in the district are also in danger of extinction.
Ali said locals had developed artificial ponds along a local river to hunt these waterfowls. He said  scavenger vulture, Eurasian woodcock, Himalayan Griffon vulture, snow pigeon, bar-headed goose, graylag goose, marbled teal, tufted duck and pallid harrier were also among the endangered species of birds.
He said there were certain species of small-sized birds, which played havoc with wheat and barley crops, and vegetables, but the declining number of falcons had increased the population of such birds bringing misery to the farmers. Internews

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