By Riaz Ahmad
Abdur Rehman is one of the few taxidermists in all of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and makes the rather tall claim that he has “so far stuffed every wildlife species found in Pakistan.”
Taxidermy is the art of preparing and stuffing the skin of animals to mount for display. Mounted animals are popularly found in natural history museum collections or atop the proud hunter’s mantle place.
Rehman has a substantive list of animals he has worked on, “hogs, deer – barasingha, chinkara (gazelle), leopards, cheetahs, golden pheasants, silver pheasants, sea gulls…” The list goes on to include peacocks, monkeys, water fowls such as the Ruddy Shelduck, locally known as Surkhab, and other migratory birds such as sparrows, grouse and parrots.
He told The Express Tribune he had “nearly stuffed every animal in the province, either in a personal capacity or as an official taxidermist.”
His journey to preserve wildlife in its inanimate form began 28 years ago. “I joined my uncle in Lahore, who is a well-known taxidermist, in 1985. It took me six years to master the various processes involved in skinning, tanning, washing, preserving and creating the cast which the skin is mounted on,” explained Rehman. Birds are easier to work on and stuff, and only require two days to complete the process for an animal the size of a pheasant.
Although there was some variety in the type of client, it is mostly the hunters who come knocking at the taxidermist’s door, wanting to preserve their bloody trophies as pristine mounts.
Skin, tan, cast
Most people hand over the carcasses soon after the hunt – then it is Rehman’s time to get his hands dirty. More....