By: Fazal Malik
Winter and spring is the season of waterfowl migration from Siberia to different region of the world, and among them migration to Indo-Pak subcontinent is of great importance. Migratory birds start their journey from the cold north usually at the end of August. By the end of November, most of them reach the desired destinations in warm South. They spend whole of winter season on wintering grounds and beat their wings back to their homelands by the end of February.
Himalayas, Karakorum and HinduKush ranges are the gateway of entry of birds to enter into Indian-subcontinent. This is one of the four largest migratory routes of the birds in the world. once these birds enter Pakistan they travel through the Indus, fly way across Pakistan. In Pakistan, estimated populations of one million birds migrate during winter. Most of them prefer to stay on various riversides. These freshwater wetlands provide suitable habitats and feeding opportunities to a wide variety of water-birds passing through Indus flyway. Being part of Indus flyway some of the birds enter Chitral and they stay across Chitral with river sides. Here they are hunted brutally by the local people, and every individual bird sighted is hunted. Due to hunting of these birds continually and regularly the populations of these birds are declining over the years in the world.
These birds are of great importance in keeping balance in eco-system, as some among them are strainer they feed on the phytoplankton (small aquatic plants) and zooplankton (very small aquatic animals) and also on algae. So they prevent the waterbody from eutrophication, some are predators which feed on aquatic insects and fish, and some other birds are scavenger they feed on dead carcasses and some are prey for higher predators like eagle, falcon and hawks together all these perpetuate a constant food web, food chain and balanced ecosystem. Balanced ecosystem is the key to life on this planet. So when these birds are hunted the balanced ecosystem is disturbed and relatively results in destruction of the ecosystem which eventually disturbs the nature. To avoid this state it is necessary to prevent these birds from brutal hunters, and the wildlife department. WWF and local conservationists need to take special notice of this, preventing the birds from illegal hunting, spread awareness among the people and specially giving lecture in schools, colleges and other educational institutions about the key role of birds in the balanced environments, and beauty of nature in Chitral.
The writer is the student of M.Phil in the University of Peshawar