Crocodiles in Nawabshah district are on their way to extinction
due to lack of concern shown both by government and conservation
Mohammed Shah Liqyari, a local journalist of Nawabshah district, has
been fighting to the protect ecosystem of Deh Akro 2 for the last five
years. Noticing that the ecosystem of Deh Akro 2 in Nawabshah is under
great threat, Liqyari has been pushing for awareness among the local
masses through newspapers and other means. The lakes in Deh Akro 2 are
home to several crocodiles, and the area is the largest natural habitant
of crocodiles in Pakistan. According to Liqyari the Sindh Wildlife
Department has been a complete disappointment in this regard, and has
done nothing to protect the ecosystem.
is the world's largest acquitter predator. The creature helps save the
environment of aquatic life by eating diseased and dying fishes in
water. According to one report, there were about 15,000 thousand
crocodiles in 1988 in lakes of Deh Akro. However, today this population
has reduced very considerably, which covers an area of 50,000 acres.
According to a report by Dr Abdul Aleem Chaudhury, director general
Wildlife Punjab there are around 500 to 1000 crocodiles in Deh Akro
is a complex of three major habitats--desert, wetland and forestland. It
lies 330 kilometers northeast of Karachi and represents an example of a
natural inland wetland ecosystem comprising 29 lakes. These lakes
include Akro, Chaachh, Loon Khan and Jansar, Mirco, Allah Dino, Mureed
Waro, Masset Waro, Batnion, Sanahry 1, Sanahry 2, Taker, Karang, Bandan
Wari, Wasso Wash, Baron Waron, Kinro, Murhne, Khararo, Kandy Waro,
Chugri, Chhamb, Bolahi, Hadero, Baro, Khurand Wah, Khan Wari, Manak Waro,
Wallan, Akan Wari and Shore Jee lakes.
Wildlife Sanctuary is an aggregate of lakes, which have come into
existence as a result of seepage from irrigation channel Nara. The Nara
Canal is the second largest canal of Sindh, and has a great history
attached to it. The Indus from time immemorial overtops its Left Bank in
low places, between Reti and Rohri. During the inundation period, the
floodwater would eventually find its way to the Natural Drainage in
the changes of course of the river, and also due to yearly rising of the
banks of the Indus, the government of India on the recommendation of
Lieutenant Fife, sanctioned a project in 1852 for the excavation of
supply channel. The 12 miles long channel had the first four miles
covered in rock and was excavated in 1858-59. The water supply of the
Nara Canal consequently improved after the construction of supply
channel. Much of the water carried down the eastern Nara was, however,
wasted on the way in depression, which fringed the Nara on either side.
The Nara flows through an inhospitable valley of alluvial soil either
side of which is covered with broken sand hills. The sand hills extend
for about 20 miles below Jamrao where the Nara enters a wide alluvial
supply channel constructed in 1858-59 paved the way for the construction
of many irrigation works from the eastern Nara for the development
cultivation in the tract of southern part of Sindh. In 1932, Sukkur
Barrage was commissioned regulating the flow of Indus and supplying the
channels through the bed of Upper Nara.
2 is 70 kilometers away from Nawabshah City. According to local people
of Deh Akro, the past has seen the ecosystem of this area rich in
Crocodylus Palustris but today the specie is under threat due to illegal
hunting and water shortage. Deh Akro wetlands are also facing drainage
threat from the construction of the large water reservoir of Chottiari.
An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) carried out on the area has
shown the adverse impacts that the water reservoir would have on the
ecology of the area. The construction has, however, been delayed due to
opposition of environmental organizations, which demand that a thorough
EIA be carried out before undertaking the construction of a dam.
Akro, the mugger crocodiles are in serious threat but Wildlife
Department and other responsible government and non-government
functionaries are still mum about the danger. The mugger is a
medium-sized crocodile and has the broadest snout of any living member
of the genus crocodiles. Mugger crocodiles are a hole-nesting species.
As with other hole-nesters, egg-laying takes place during the annual dry
season. Females become sexually mature at a length of approximately
1.82m, and lay 2,530 eggs. Nests are located in a wide variety of
habitats, and females have even been known to nest at the opening of, or
inside, the burrow.
captivity, some mugger crocodiles are known to lay two clutches in a
single year but this has not been observed in the wild. Incubation is
relatively short, typically lasting 5,575 days.
reports suggest that mugger crocodile population in Pakistan has been
severely damaged because of their commercial hunting. However, no formal
survey has been conducted, and in some parts of the country the killing
of this specie still continues.
Acro, especially Wasoo, Bhohi, Kinro, Chugri, Khararo, Chhamb, Shore Jee,
Chuari, Khurand Wari and in other lakes, mugger crocodiles have been
severely affected due to continuous hunting. These lakes, in the past,
were regarded as being the richest in terms of inhabiting crocodiles in
the country, but because of illegal hunting and water shortage the breed
is becoming scarce. According to local officials of Wildlife Department,
crocodile species are also present in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, China,
hunting is usually done at dawn when no one is present. They could be
easily hunted in Deh Akro because we have no facility to protect
crocodiles in the area. We don't even have vehicles to reach the
culprits in and around the lakes, which are spread on a huge area,"
tells an employee of Sindh Wildlife Department in Nawabshah, on
condition of anonymity. "We are working with only five Game
Watchers and one acting Inspector for 29 lakes. This little staff and
facilities are not enough to protect the ecosystem of Deh Akro. Our
repeated pleas for better facilities and more staff have never received
any response from the authorities of the Wildlife Department Secretariat
to sources of Environment Protection Agency (EPA) Sindh, "Wetlands
conservation in Pakistan, including Sindh Province, began after an
expedition organised by World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF) in 1967 under
the supervision of Guy Mountfort. As a further step towards
conservation, Pakistan signed the Ramsar Convention in 1971 and declared
nine wetlands of the country, which included three wetlands of Sindh.
Ramsar Convention (1971) has urged a wise use of wetlands; that means
human use of a wetland so that it may yield the greatest continuous
benefit to present generations while maintaining its potential to meet
the needs and aspirations of the future generation.
Indus Committee is the custodian of wetlands in Sindh, and is
responsible for the management of wetland and its crocodile population
in the province. The committee has promulgated legislation to protect
wetlands and the threatened species of crocodiles. The legislation is
known as the Sindh Wildlife
Protection Act 1972, and was revised in 1996. However, it has been
observed that in most areas due to the shortage of infrastructure,
sticking to the convention becomes simply impossible."
Mohammed Shah Liqyari claims: "According to the law on illegal
hunting, there is a fine of Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 100,000 on illegal
hunting. However, no one has been fined even one paisa for illegal
hunting during the past 15 years in Deh Akro. In 1995, seven culprits
were arrested during illegal hunting in Deh Akro but the respected
judiciary sentenced them to only one week imprisonment." Liqyari
informs that the illegal hunting usually continues throughout the year.
According to him it is best to have an independent body keeping a check
on illegal hunting.
in Deh Akro area are becoming dry as their sources of water have either
been cut off or diverted to other uses, mainly agricultural ones. Many
wetlands in Deh Akro are affected due to this practice. These lakes were
in a better position when Nara Canal had a huge flow of water. Today,
however, the Nara Canal itself is facing acute water shortage. Liqyari
suggests that a pipeline should be installed for lakes from Nara Canal
to protect crocodile's breed and other ecosystem.
shortage in the area has not only affected crocodiles and other
wildlife, but it has also affected local population of people who are
fast migrating to other areas. According to one report, a number of
people from Taher Bhutti, Janoon Khaskhili, Khabier Bhatti, Anbb Wisan,
Hakin Khaskili, Unius Aboo Poto, Jaifar Lashari, Sidique Bhatti, Misri
Narijo, Hyder Chang, Mohammed Wasem and Sheinh Dakhan village are
migrating to other areas.
villagers of the area surrounding Deh Akro, revealing the names of the
culprits indulged in illegal crocodile hunting is tantamount to inviting
death. "We cannot tell you the names of those culprits because the
culprits themselves and the wildlife employees are constantly
threatening us," one villager reveals. These culprits use different
ways to hunt, and after illegal hunting of crocodiles, these culprits
get skin from crocodiles and then hide bones in the sand so that they
could not be suspected.
and Karachi skin traders purchase one skin of crocodile for around Rs.
15,000 to Rs. 25,000. The international market offers much higher rates
for a crocodile skin, and many of the local traders have direct
connections in the international market.
to reports, in Sindh lakes are facing the problem of a process through
which waters rich in mineral and organic nutrients causes the extinction
of other organisms, and the problem is increasing by the day. Improper
management and lack of co-ordination among different stakeholders is
said to be responsible for giving way to it. A strategy needs to be
devised to combat this serious problem. Many suggest that if this
strategy is drawn in the same way, as land management practices are,
then it may turn out to be more effective in the long run.
programme, which has no objective other than weed eradication, might not
yield the desired results. Non-availability of Indus water to maintain
the lake levels at such a point, which is suitable for the survival of
not only crocodiles but also fishes and other species is needed. Around
75,000 hectares area is covered with lakes that are mainly located west
of Indus River in Dadu, Larkana and Jaccababad districts. Lakes are also
present on the south of Kotri Barrage in Thatta and Badin District and
along the Nara Canal at the edge of Thar Desert.
from one recent sighting, nothing is known about the status of the
mugger crocodile. This is the time when Nara Canal's survey is needed.
Based on the results of this survey, action should be taken to set aside
land for crocodile sanctuaries. However, EPA Sindh has yet to realise
the importance of the issue of crocodiles not only in Deh Akro but also
in Haligi Lake, which is a breeding area for a good number of
crocodiles, which are under threat. No survey or a study has been
conducted so far on the causes and effects of decreasing crocodiles in
the lakes of Deh Akro. When Kolachi contacted Regional Office of EPA
Hyderabad, Mr Kishan, second in-charge officer of EPA informed that
there is no data available on crocodiles in the office because no work
has been undertaken to counter the threat to the crocodile population.
to a reliable source in Sindh Wildlife Department, Deh Akro was declared
as a sanctuary in the year 1988, but the land of the area was never
handed over to Sindh Wildlife Department. The Revenue Department has
made a number of attempts to give these lands on lease to landless
people for agriculture purposes but had to call off the idea when
concerned people and other advocates for the protection of the ecosystem
raised their voice against it. Not only the Revenue Department but
Fisheries Department has also tried to auction these lakes many times.
Regarding this, when Kolachi contacted the Secretariat of Wildlife one
official told that Deh Akro is facing that threat because of the lack of
management planning. He informed that to date no planning has been
undertaken for the development of the area.
to local people, anybody can easily see the dying crocodiles in Deh Akro
where crocodiles go in search of water ponds outside the lakes and lose
their lives in sand and dunes in desert. In summer, they die due to
water shortage and in winter season the time is ripe for illegal hunting
due to ineffective law enforcement in Deh Akro. Rescue procedure and
technical labs are also not available in Deh Akro. Though the threat has
existed for 15 years now, no steps have been taken by any environmental
NGO or Wildlife Department for the protection of crocodiles.
Wildlife of Pakistan-All Rights Reserved.
February 25th, 2007