Viral Photo Of Peshawar Commissioner Hunting 'Endangered' Birds Sparks Backlash

Viral Photo Of Peshawar Commissioner Hunting 'Endangered' Birds Sparks Backlash
A photo showing Commissioner Peshawar Riaz Mehsud posing next to over a dozen hunted partridges has sparked outrage on social media.

The commissioner is the son of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Senator Dost Muhammad Mehsud.  The birds in the photograph were reportedly endangered black and grey partridges.

Native to Eurasia, both species of birds are vulnerable to climate change, habitat loss, and overhunting. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed the black partridge on its Red List of Threatened Species.   The grey partridge is evaluated as 'of least concern' on the IUCN's Red List.

"Hunting endangered species just for fun is highly condemnable," wrote one social media user. "Will any action be taken against him?"

Journalist Asad Ali Toor said, "Will PTI [Government] which claims to be custodian of wildlife take action against him? Hunting of endangered species is on the rise in PTI’s Govt."

"Clearly, trophy hunting is no big deal for the ministers in [PTI Government]" wrote one commentator. "In 2021, they had invited eleven members of the UAE royal family to hunt the internationally protected and highly vulnerable Hubara Bustard in Pakistan's Panjgur district."

While it is unclear where the photo was taken, in 2020 the Punjab Wildlife Protection Department approved partridge hunting in the province, restricting it to Sundays from November to February and requiring hunters to obtain a licence. Hunting is prohibited in wildlife sanctuaries and national parks.