ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A local environmental protection agency in the Kurdistan Region on Tuesday warned of the possible extinction of wildlife as police crackdown on poachers in the region.
The warnings came as the Kurdistan Region police forces arrested a group of unlicensed hunters at the checkpoint leaving the Maydan sub-district, part of Khanaqin District, Diyala Province, with recently hunted wild animals.
“Wild Deer and birds living in the Garmiyan region will go extinct because locals continue poaching the animals,” Ibrahim Zarifi, head of the Garmiyan Environmental Protection Organization, told Kurdistan 24 on Tuesday.
Garmiyan is an area comprised of Kurdish districts from the provinces of Diyala, Kirkuk, and Sulamani. It is well known for its rich fauna inhabiting its vast plains, where people hunt game meat.
According to the area’s police department, also responsible for the arrests, the men were carrying the carcasses of eight Chukar Partridges and one wild rabbit they had killed Tuesday night.
In another incident on the same day, a yet unspecified number of hunters killed a wild goat and two of its kids. The checkpoint guards arrested them later in the day and posted pictures of the animals, skinned and on the back of a pickup truck.
The detainees were handed over to the competent authorities, the Forest Police (or nature guards). The Kurdistan Region established the new police force and put into effect regulations and laws on environmental protection between the years of 2008 and 2010 in hopes of preserving the region’s nature and wildlife.
However, the Forest Police’s resources and staff were severely depleted following the Kurdistan Region’s fight against the Islamic State (IS) as their teams were mobilized in the war.
The move weakened protection of the region’s forests and wildlife, giving hunters a free pass on poaching activity. As it recovers from its economic hardships, the Kurdistan Region is reallocating resources to reinforce the protected area’s security.
Editing by Nadia Riva
(Additional reporting by Kurdistan 24 correspondent Harem Jaff)
(An earlier version of this article said the type of bird carcasses seized from the arrested individuals were See-see partridges.)