Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday sought replies from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Interior Ministry and Forest Department on a plea seeking safe migration of Siberian birds in Pakistan.
Advocate Kashif Sulemani moved the petition and submitted that every year in December millions of Siberian birds migrate to Pakistan due to the harsh cold climate, and return to their native land when the weather improves.
He submitted that during the stay of the birds in Pakistan, people hunt them in violation of international laws. He requested the court to ensure a safe stay and exit for the Siberian birds.
Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah heard the initial arguments of the lawyer and sought replies from the respondents by December 20.
The famous route from Siberia to various destinations in Pakistan over Karakorum, Hindu Kush and Suleiman ranges along the Indus River down to the delta is known as the International Migratory Bird Route Number 4or the Indus Flyway.
The birds start on this route in November. February is the peak time and by March they start flying back home. There are a total of seven identified flyways in the world.
A large number of birds of diverse species, including water fowls, cranes, teals, pintail, mallard and gadwall, take this route. Some extinguishing species like white-headed duck, houbara bustard and Siberian crane also travel on this route.
Wildlife experts have stated the numbers of seasonal birds transmigrating to Punjab had decreased by at least 70 per cent over the past few years. They warn that excessive tree cutting, pollution and major construction projects make the bird sanctuaries unsuitable.
Last year, National Assembly Standing Committee on Climate Change was told that bustards and Siberian cranes were being hunted indiscriminately. Both species of the migratory birds are listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
Officials from the Ministry of Climate Change had explained that members of royal families from the Middle East, particularly those in Saudi Arabia, were given licenses to hunt endangered migratory birds, such as bustards, despite restrictions in place.