A poacher attempting to hunt a barking deer was arrested from Trail 6 in the Margalla Hills National Park (MHNP), who will be spending his Eid behind bars.
A couple of days ago, the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) were alerted that somebody had killed a barking deer. As most of the IWMB staff were busy on fire lines and with fewer visitors in Ramazan, hunters had thought they had an open field.
Instead of increasing patrolling, the IWMB hoodwinked illegal hunters into thinking that the trail was left unattended. However, the IWMB had a different strategy and took shelter in a nearby hunting spot close to the water pond.
As the poachers came to the spot, they were raided by the police and the IWMB. One of the two poachers was caught but the other escaped. We had found their hunting spot near a waterhole where animals gathered to drink early in the morning. The younger man who escaped initially threatened to shoot the IWMB staff with his shotgun. The other has been arrested and is in custody of the Margalla police,” Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) ChairpersonRina Saeed Khan said.
The IWMB has also got registered a first information report (FIR) with Margalla Police. The poacher can face imprisonment of up to two years and a minimum fine of Rs2,000 under Section 6 of the Islamabad Wildlife Ordinance 1979, which prohibits hunting with firearms.
Rina S Khan said that the penalty was too little. However, a heavy fine was recommended in the draft Islamabad Nature and Wildlife Management Act 2021, which was waiting for approval from parliament.
Trail 6 had been closed to the public after it was declared a leopard zone to give the big cats freedom to roam. However, the trail has several entry and exit points and the two poachers belonging to the Talhar village had come from behind the hills.
Before IWMB was formed in 2015, hunting was frequent along the trail. Now, it has declined after strict control and patrolling of the trails. “It was important for us to catch the poachers to send a message that illegal hunting is a serious offence. The police were quick to respond when the staff called 15,” Rina said, adding the trails became safer for animals and hikers alike after illegal hunting declined.
At the moment, the exact number of barking deer is being studied, Ms Khan said, adding their population was healthy and not vulnerable.