The hunt for reptiles in Balochistan (Pakistan) is on a downward trend but still troublesome | Instant News

A topographic map of southwest Balochistan showing the locations of visits in the districts of Chagai, Nushki, Panjgur, Kharan and Washuk. Credit: Rafaqat Masroor

Since 2013, after strict enforcement of provincial wildlife laws in the Asian region which have been poorly studied, the overall trend of illegal reptile hunting continues to decline. But it is too soon to claim that this problem has been solved. Boiled reptiles are largely destined not only for pet trade, but also folk medicine and snake shows, according to a recent study led by scientists from the Pakistan Natural History Museum and Peshawar University published in an open access journal. Herpetozoa.

For the first time, exploitation of reptiles for pet trade had become a public concern in the late 1960s. In general, illegal poaching is one of the many problems we still face throughout the world, despite the strict restrictions that have been enacted on a massive scale over the past few decades. That wildlife trade not only causes loss of biodiversity (through the capture of protected species), but also threatens the possibility of spreading diseases transmitted through animals, due to interspecies contact in the pet market and traditional medicine. The recent COVID-19 pandemic case provides lessons to be learned, and to stop further events, the focus on law enforcement activities must be taken to the wildlife trade hotspot.

In the special case of Pakistan, a country with a high diversity of reptile species, very little is known about the relationship between illegal wildlife trade and wildlife decline. Illegal poaching and trafficking in Pakistan are largely undocumented and it is difficult to bring accurate data because trade involves many channels and follows informal networks. There is marginal information available about the use of wild flora and fauna drugs for parts of Pakistan, but there are no reports on commercialization, harvesting, market dynamics and conservation impacts of these activities.

Since 2013, a number of different foreclosures have taken place reptile species and parts of them from Pakistani citizens have been widely reported from all over the country, which has resulted in the enforcement of laws and regulations on wildlife trade in Pakistan.

The hunt for reptiles in Balochistan (Pakistan) is on a downward trend but still troublesome

A view of living reptiles. Lytorhynchus maynardi and Eryx tataricus speciosus, both of which are rarely found snakes in locally made boxes. Credit: Rafaqat Masroor

An international research team, led by Dr. Rafaqat Masroor from Pakistan’s Natural History Museum investigates the rate of collection of illegal reptiles in southwest Balochistan. Scientists are trying to determine what impact this activity has on wild populations.

That Study tours, conducted in 2013-2017, targeting Chagai, Nushki, Panjgur, Kharan and Washuk districts in Balochistan province. During those years, scientists interviewed 73 illegal collectors. Most collectors work in groups, consisting of men between 14 and 50 years old.

“They are all illiterate and their sole livelihood is based on hunting reptiles, trafficking and street shows. These collectors are well organized and have trap equipment for reptile collection. […] These groups are locally known as “jogeez”, which mainly come from Sindh Province and include snake charmers, have deep roots with local hakeem (herbal medicine practitioners) and wildlife traders, businessmen and exporters based in the city of Karachi. […] We often observe local people killing lizards and snakes, mostly for fear of poison and some for fun and centuries-old myths, “said Dr. Masroor.

A total number of illegally captured reptiles, recorded during the investigation, produced 5,369 specimens representing 19 species. All of them have been declared Protected under Schedule-III of the Wildlife Act of Balochistan Province.

The hunt for reptiles in Balochistan (Pakistan) is on a downward trend but still troublesome

The number of specimens collected against the number of individuals (illegal collectors). Credit: Rafaqat Masroor

Among the reasons for the Balochistan province to remain unexplored may be the lack of government environmental and wildlife protection agencies, the lack of resources and highly qualified specialists in the department of wildlife, forests and environment, as well as the geopolitical position and remoteness of the government. broad field.

Scientists call on provincial and federal governments to take action and outline specific strategies for the conservation of endemic and threatened species as part of the country’s natural heritage both in southwest Balochistan and throughout Pakistan. Conservation plans need to be consulted with specialists in their respective fields, to avoid incapacity.

Also, the research group recommends strictly prohibiting the poaching of poisonous snakes for the purpose of extracting poisons.

What is important to remember is that Balochistan represents one of the most important regions in Asia with a high number of endemic reptile species. The illegal capture of these species presents a threat to animals that are not well documented. Although the current trend for captured reptiles is declining, more action is needed, to ensure biodiversity security in the region.

The snake black market is risky for humans and wildlife

Further information:
Rafaqat Masroor et al. Case study of illegal reptile hunting from Balochistan, Pakistan, Herpetozoa (2020). DOI: 10.3897 / herpetozoa.33.e51690

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The hunt for reptiles in Balochistan (Pakistan) is on a downward trend but still troublesome (2020, 14 May)
taken May 15, 2020

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