by Hana Namrouqa | Aug 29, 2012

AMMAN — The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) has banned the hunting of chukars and other partridges this year due to a considerable decline in their numbers, a conservationist said on Wednesday.

“Following conservationists’ studies indicating a clear drop in chukar and partridge numbers and appeals from responsible hunters, the society’s wildlife committee decided to ban hunting of the birds this year,” RSCN Spokesperson Omar Shoshan said.

While neither the chukar nor any other species of partridge is globally endangered, field surveys over the past year have indicated that populations of the popular game birds in Jordan are dwindling, added Shoshan, who also heads the RSCN’s environmental policy and advocacy department, warning that unless measures are taken to preserve the birds, they might disappear from the Kingdom in the future.

Frequent droughts and delayed rainfall in recent years are among the factors that have led to the decline in the numbers of the ground-nesting birds, he underscored.

“The goal is to give chukars and partridges in the wild the chance to repopulate and naturally spread without being hunted down. The committee will re-evaluate their status later and decide whether to lift the ban,” Shoshan told The Jordan Times.

Illegal hunting of partridges during mating and migration seasons, as well as the collection of their eggs and the destruction of their natural habitat, is also behind the drop in their populations.

“The RSCN calls on hunters to abide by the new decision and support it in order to prevent the extinction of the birds [in Jordan], which would affect the survival of other wildlife, such as falcons and eagles,” the RSCN spokesman said.

“Conservation and hunting regulation section personnel and the Rangers will carry out inspections on hunters and pet stores to ensure their abidance and track down people tampering with nests,” he added.

Under RSCN regulations, those who hunt chukars or other partridges outside the allotted period are subject to a JD1,000 fine and three months in prison, on top of which their weapons are seized, according to the RSCN.

The location of hunting activities changes with the seasons, with hunters mainly active in the Jordan Valley, mountainous areas and the eastern desert, according to the RSCN.

In 1973, the government gave the RSCN, an independent nonprofit NGO, a mandate to regulate hunting and protect the Kingdom’s wildlife.

Almost 4,000 out of an estimated 7,000 hunters in the Kingdom are registered with the society.