The Punjab Wildlife Department in March 2020 confiscated hundreds of sparrows and released them, as well as fining bird trappers Rs 50,000.
The department has been alternating its focus between protecting wildlife in forests and markets where illegal traders of endangered and smuggled birds and animals conducted business.
Raids were recently carried out from Saddar to Commercial Market and Raja Bazaar in Rawalpindi in which five bird trappers were fined Rs 10,000 each; the fines were collected on the spot. The sparrows are sold for between Rs 50 and Rs 100 and then released as an act of benevolence.
“People who purchase caged sparrows say they feel a sense of gratification when they see the birds fly out of their confines,” District Wildlife Officer Rizwana Aziz said.
Sparrows and other birds are trapped with nets in Punjab, possibly in Sargodha, and then sold in Rawalpindi.
Hunting for pheasants with a licence is about to halted as breeding season is about to begin, and trapping quail is also coming to a close on April 15.
A licence to trap quail costs Rs 10,000 per net. Trappers cannot catch more than 40 birds. In the past, trappers would play bird sounds throughout the night and by morning dozens of birds would be caught in their nets.
Ms Aziz said: “This practice was banned but not checked strictly. The ban is now enforced. Trappers can only trap quail using a live decoy.”
She said hunting violations have declined and those accused of violations undergo departmental proceedings to pay fines.
In a recent case, a hunting party was find Rs35,000 for violating hunting laws and contested the penalty in court.
“Members of the hunting party accused the wildlife department of stealing pheasants from its shrines. The appeal of the hunting party was rejected by the court, which enforced the fine,” she said.
Hunting of all birds will come to a close between April 15 and August 15 so they may breed and restore the population of hunted birds.
Ms Aziz said the illegal trapping of turtle species also seems to be on the decline, but as poachers and illegal traders would use any means possible to trap wild animals, most of them endangered, there was no time to relax vigilance.