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Licensed guns used for killing migratory birds in Wular

Srinagar, Jan 13: It is difficult to contain or stop poaching of migratory birds in Kashmir, especially in the wetlands that are not protected or duly monitored by the wildlife department, claim officials concerned.

As a result, wetlands, especially the ones falling in the Wular belt in Baramulla and Bandipora districts, are facing higher incidence of poaching with scores of migratory birds getting killed for sport every other day, sources told The Kashmir Monitor.

“Although the poaching continues in most of the wetlands, the areas associated with Wular including Haigam, Watlab, Banyari, and Makadamyari are witnessing it on a larger scale,” a source revealed adding: “The locals, who carry licensed guns for their security, misuse them to kill the migratory birds.”

Lakhs of these winged visitors fly to Kashmir in November each year to get away from their freezing natural habitats in Siberia, China, Japan and other countries.

These birds include Brahminy Duck, Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Garganey, Greylag Goose, Mallard, Common Merganser, Northern Pintail, and Common Teal.

Their poaching, however, continues unabated, especially outside the wetland reserves that are not fully protected by the staff of the wildlife department.

“Our presence is only in the protected wetlands. In associated wetlands, which are not protected, people take advantage,” said Chief Wildlife Warden, Rashid Naqash.

Their modus operandi, in cases where poaching happens outside the protected areas, is to send squads to the spot, Naqash said.

He added that they don’t have a permanent establishment in Wular.

“…because it is basically a fresh water wetland that provides livelihood to many people who are associated with it. We cannot mark it as protected.”

Naqash confirmed that the licensed guns issued to the people for their safety are being misused for poaching.

“Last year, we snatched such guns from many people who were caught misusing them,” he said.