SIALKOT: Two wildlife officers of the Punjab Wildlife and Parks Department were shot dead by poachers on Sunday.
Inspector Manzoor and Constable Mushtaq from the special squad in Gujranwala region were killed by poachers armed with automated weapons near Sialkot.
The officers, according to a statement by the WWF Pakistan, were killed while intercepting an attempt of illegal poaching of migratory birds.
WWF-Pakistan strongly condemned the killing of the two officers.
“WWF Pakistan stands with the Punjab Wildlife and Parks Department and the families of martyrs in solidarity and strongly condemns this inhumane act,” the organisation tweeted. “WWF Pakistan urges stringent punishments against those found culpable and assures its full support.”
The brutal killing of the two officials is extremely sad and shocking news for the entire team of WWF Pakistan, CEO Hammad Naqi Khan said.
Commenting on the challenges faced by the field staff of the wildlife and forests departments, Khan added that ‘they work tirelessly to protect endangered and iconic wildlife species and their habitats’ most of which are in demand in the illegal wildlife trade market.
“These unsung conservation heroes regularly pay with their lives while trying to keep our natural treasures safe,” Khan said.
The situation prevails in Asia and Africa in particular. According to an assessment of the International Ranger Federation (IRF), over 100 field rangers (wildlife and forest staff) died on duty during 2015 alone, of which 40 percent were killed by poachers.
This is further intensified by loopholes and low penalties in the provincial wildlife protection laws against the poachers and wildlife traffickers making it a low risk and high-profit business.