Pakistan originally had wide and rich variety of fauna or account of its wide range of topography and climate. Large tracts of vegetated areas which served as natural habitat for wildlife have been cleared for expanding needs of agriculture and industries. Due to the colonization and unscrupulous hunting for Pleasure and trade as many as 34 mammals, 20 birds and 5 reptiles are reported to be on the verge of extinction.
Realizing the alarming rate of decline of wildlife the Gov-ernment of Pakistan constituted a Wildlife Enquiry Committee to investigate cause of this decline and suggest ways and means to improve the situation. The Committee recommended for comprehensive approach through the creation of special areas, like National Parks, Game Sanctuaries and Game Reserves, their scientific management, training of the supervisory staff, starting realistic research work, promulgation of comprehensive legal frame work, creation of necessary administrative infrastructure and constitution of a central wildlife conservation body. The implementation of these recommendations has been initiated by both the Provincial/Local and Federal Governments. At the Federal level the National Council for Conservation of Wildlife has been created to formulate appropriate wildlife conservation policies for the country, coordinate the implementation of these policies and under-take International liaison.
A private body created to formulate conservation of flora and fauna is the Pakistan Wildlife Appeal, now known as World Wildlife Fund (Pakistan).
Prime Minister of Pakistan has shown a keen interest in the conservation of Wildlife and has been pleased to issue four directives on conservation of wildlife. “I want desperately to preserve the wildlife—just desperately”, he, has remarked. In pursuance of the Prime Minister’s directives, and under the guidance of Mr. Mumtaz Ali Bhutto, Minister of Communica-tions, Government of Pakistan, himself an ardent lover of Wildlife and Honorary President, World Wildlife Fund (Pakistan), the Pakistan Post Office in collaboration with the National Council for Conservation of Wildlife in Pakistan has arranged to bring out series of commemorative stamps for public motivation, to be known as the wildlife conservation series. The black partridges stamps are the first of this series. It is proposed to bring out stamps every quarter for at least a year, depicting one or other of the species of Wildlife in Pakistan, which needs protection. For Wildlife Conservation a little forethought and good-will is required to permit the co-existence of men and wildlife. To those whose fascination for wildlife turns them into enthusiastic hunters perhaps the best advice that could be given is : —If you must shoot, shoot with the camera and not with gun.
Black Partridges commonly known as Kala Teeter in Urdu, is Francolinus asiae. Its male is jet black, spotted and barred above with white and dull yellow. Combination of white bright patches on either cheek, a collar of chestnut colour with chestnut’ belly make the bird colourful and attractive. Its female is more or, less like the male but is not as beautiful: it is paler and browner with no white cheek patches or chestnut colour. It is easily re-cognised by its buff white chin and throat. Underparts and flanks wavily barred and scalloped black and white.
There is great variety in size and weight of the birds. The average length of the male bird is about 14 inches, wing 6~ inches, tail 4 inches, legs red, bill brown and black, weight from 8 to 20 ounces.. The female is lighter in weight and small in size.
This beautiful bird has a wide range, but is’ mostly found in Indus Plains, where high grass and tamarix scrub occur in the neighbourhood of water-bordering cultivation. It lives away from the thick forests but prefers areas around cultivated fields where abundance of bushy cover is found. Black Partridge generally keeps singly or in scattered pairs. It rests in thick cover of tall grass, sugarcane or millet fields.
It leaves the thick cover to feed in open crops and grass-lands in the morning and late afternoon. The food consists of grass, wood seeds, cereal grains, shoots, leaves, tubers, larvae and insects of all kinds, particularly termites which are so destructive.
It has a long breeding season extending from March to October varying somewhat in different parts of Pakistan.
For its nest it scrapes a shallow depression in the ground, pads it with grass, camouflaged with tall grass and bushes around. It lays 6 to 9 eggs. The female alone incubates. The young ones hatch in about 18 days.
The call of the cock is well known. It is a curious blend of the harsh and the musical notes repeated at the intervals of 15 seconds or so. Its call has charmed the people so much that the Emperor Babar is reported to have described it as “Subhan teri qudrat” (Omnipotent, thy power). It has also been rendered as “Shir-darem-Shakrak” (I have milk and a little sugar).
This beautiful bird is getting rather rare in Pakistan because of the destruction of its habitat as the wild lands that it prefers are being cleared for habitation or cultivation. Poaching of the bird in and out of season and excessive hunting pressure are constant threats to the continued existence of the species. It was with a view to cease the excessive hunting pressure that the authorities completely banned the hunting of the black partridge during 1972-73. Recently, however, hunting has been rationalised by fixing a hunting period and laying down a maximum limit of the bag. Generally, the shooting season is from the 15th November to the 15th February and the bird should in no case be hunted beyond this period. It is also necessary that people should stop poaching which is nothing short of cruelty to the species. The bird should in no case be disturbed or hunted during its breed-ing season. Hunters should also concentrate attention on control-ling the predators of the bird like jackals.