Paguma Larvata

Hare in Karachi


Hare in Karachi
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
By Jan Khaskheli


Hare, once a common mammal wandering in the fields, has almost disappeared from the agricultural areas of the province, but the provincial Wildlife officials say that its population is increasing around Karachi suburbs, especially the green areas of Bin Qasim and Gadap Towns, because there is no threat to it from poachers.

Excessive use of pesticides in agriculture, increasing deforestation and unchecked poaching has affected the population of hares in the province, wildlife conservationists said.

The wildlife game watchers wandering in the city suburbs reveal that since it survives on grasses, seeds and grains, hare population can be witnessed near natural ponds, rainy waterways and crops. However, local activists from Keamari Town say that a small population of hare also inhabit the Hub River forests and mountainous areas along the famous beach resorts.

An activist from Mubarak Village, situated near the Hub River, says that some years back they had hardly seen any hares wandering around but now herds of this mammal can be seen in bushes along the rocky neighbourhood.

Hunting partridges might have saved this mammal, as poachers prefer to shoot birds. They say some people may be involved in killing hares in the night by using searchlights and guns. However, the local people do not disturb this mammal in the area.

Earlier, many people used to keep this furry mammal�s babies at their village homes, as it is cuddly and children usually admire it. However, now it has become rare in the entire area, as some illiterate farmers and herdsmen kill it for fun.

Poachers are tracing hares in many areas of Sindh as the winter season is approaching. Despite being declared threatened specie, influential locals travelling on four-wheel vehicles use searchlights and hunt the mammal with guns, reports gathered by The News said.

Some people say earlier, poachers used to catch it alive through nets, but now they have changed their hunting methods. In some areas, influential people use guns to kill it while mostly poachers avoid using guns. Searchlights are the main tools for catching hares in the night.

It is said, since there is an acute shortage of irrigation water in their natural habitats, hares have started shifting to other places near scattered lakes in the desert areas including Khairpur, Sanghar, Nawabshah and Tharparkar districts. There too its hunting in connivance with local wildlife officials is continuing.

According to village people, thick groves and wide cultivated areas used to be safe habitats for hares. However, now due to the increased deforestation, depleting green pastures and unchecked hunting, hare has almost become extinct in Sindh.

Sindh Wildlife Department officials deny issuing licenses for killing hares. They believe that they issued license for hunting those animals, which have more population and would definitely die naturally due to age factor.

Previously, this mammal was not in the list of protected animals and poaching was a common practice in game reserves. But when the Sindh Wildlife Department received complaints that the population of hare was decreasing fast, they introduced an amendment bill on March 20, 1998 and declared hare on the protected animals list.

Hare has around 25 species, of which in Pakistan are three, including Indian desert hare or black napped hare (Lepus nigricollis) and Cape hare (Lepus capensi). Cape hare is not common and it leaps faster than the Indian desert hare, which is common in Sindh and Punjab agriculture fields.

Each female hare gives birth to 4-6 babies once in spring season annually. But in captivity they can give birth twice a year because of healthy nutrition.

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