By Hana Namrouqa

AMMAN – Chukar and partridge populations are declining due to a scarcity of rainfall and illegal hunting, according to conservationists.

Hunters’ ignorance of the hunting schedule set by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) has led to a decline in the number of the two species – ground-nesting birds largely sought by hunters – while a drop in rainfall over the past years has affected their natural habitat, Mahdi Qatramiz, head of the RSCN’s conservation and hunting regulation section, said on Wednesday.

In addition, collection of the birds’ eggs contributed to their dwindling population, he noted.

“To this end, the RSCN banned the hunting of chukars and partridges as of this month and the Ministry of Agriculture announced the end of the hunting season for the two birds,” Qatramiz added.

A team from the RSCN recently carried out a survey to evaluate the chukar and partridge population in Jordan, he said, noting that their population has notably declined compared to previous years.

“The hunting ban went into effect on September 1 and will continue until November; however, the hunting of wild pigeons is still permitted,” the conservationist said.

Under RSCN regulations, those who hunt chukar and partridge outside the allotted period are fined JD1,000, sentenced to three months in prison and their weapons are seized, according to Qatramiz.

The location of hunting activities changes according to the season, 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

With almost 4,000 out of an estimated 7,000 hunters in the Kingdom registered with the society, Qatramiz called on hunters to cooperate and abide by regulations.

The RSCN also announced that hunting activities in Ghor Fifa are banned after the Cabinet announced the location as a protected area.

The area, which lies at the southern tip of the Dead Sea, contains remnants of sub-tropical vegetation and freshwater streams that have created an oasis in an arid region, thus attracting migrating birds. Ghor Fifa is also home to the Syrian wolf and the majestic caracal, according to the RSCN.