HITRAL: Police have arrested three local residents for illegally hunting a Kashmir markhor inside the Chitral Gol National Park on Sunday last.
The arrests of Imran Khan, Takbeer Shah and Gul Gujar of Singur village come on the complaint of the park management.
The alleged poachers face action under sections 506, 186, 188 and 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code.
Police said they had recovered the hide of the hunted markhor along with the empty shells of the automatic rifle’s cartridges used for the poaching.
They said the alleged poaching occurred in Guruli Rogh area, the park’s core zone near the official rest house.
Local residents have expressed concern over poaching inside the park and demanded strict action against the officials responsible for it.
They said they had failed to understand how poachers could hunt markhor in the heavily-guarded park using modern rifles without let or hindrance.
The residents said poaching inside the park had caused doubts about the conservation of the endangered species.
Shahid Wali, a resident of Chew Doke, a village adjacent to the park, said it was strange that the hide of the hunted animal had been seized but its carcass and horns were missing.
“What is the utility of the national park if poachers enter it in broad daylight brandishing rifles and hunt markhor without let or hindrance,” he said.
When approached, divisional forest officer Shakil Ahmad confirmed poaching inside the park but refused to give details.
“Without consulting the chief conservator and getting his permission, I cannot speak to you about the incident,” he said.
In February last year, the Peshawar High Court chief justice had taken a suo motto notice of the poaching of a Kashmir markhor inside the park and ordered the provincial environment department to trace poachers and act against them under the law.
However, the order has yet to be complied with.