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Hunting Pressure on Migratory Demoiselle Cranes in Pakistan

Hunting Pressure on Migratory Demoiselle Cranes in Pakistan

Misbah Sarwar1*, Abdul Hamid2 and Iftikhar Hussain2

1Department of Wildlife and Parks, Punjab, Pakistan
2Department of Wildlife Management, PMAS-Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi, Pakistan

*      Corresponding author:


This study was conducted to assess hunting pressure on Demoiselle cranes (Anthropoides virgo) in South Waziristan, Pakistan from October 2015 to January 2016. The data were collected by questionnaire survey. A total of 110 hunters were interviewed from 10 different hunting camps and record of capturing was documented from 2012 to 2015. The results revealed that 11.8% (n=13) hunters captured the cranes by hand, 36.4% (n=40) hunters captured them by Soai, while 51.4% (n=57) hunters employed both of these methods to capture cranes. In total, 7947 cranes were captured during the study period. Age wise segregation showed that 6624 (83.4%) of captured cranes were adults and 1323 (16.6%) sub-adults. Among the adult cranes, 3279 (49.5%) were males and 3345 (50.5%) females. Cranes captured during spring and fall from 2012 to 2015 included 1021 and 502; 981 and 527; 787 and 311 and 843 and 462 respectively. The difference between the spring and fall capture shows that significant mortality occurs during residence at summer quarters and return migration. In late August through September, they gather in flocks of up to 400 individuals and prepare for their flight to their winter range. During their migratory flight south, demoiselles fly like all cranes, with their head and neck straight forward and their feet and legs straight behind, reaching altitudes of 16,000–26,000 feet (4,900–7,900 metres). Along their arduous journey they have to cross the Himalayan Mountains to get to their over-wintering grounds in India. Many die from fatigue, hunger and predation from golden eagles. Simpler, lower routes are possible, such as crossing the range via the Khyber Pass. However, their presently preferred route has been hard-wired by countless cycles of migration. At their wintering grounds, demoiselles have been observed flocking with common cranes, their combined totals reaching up to 20,000 individuals. Demoiselles maintain separate social groups within the larger flock. In March and April, they begin their long spring journey back to their northern nesting grounds. The hunters had no hunting permits for hunting and most people hunted for recreation, pet, captive breeding and sale. The present study concludes that demoiselle cranes are being illegally hunted at a large scale in the study area resulting in decline in their population. There is a dire need of law enforcement to conserve the bird species in the study area.

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Pakistan Journal of Zoology


Vol. 54, Iss. 5, Pages 2003-2500


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