SIALKOT – Two wildlife officers of the Punjab Wildlife and Parks Department were shot dead by poachers near Sialkot district on Sunday.

Inspector Manzoor and Constable Mushtaq from the special squad in Gujranwala region were killed by armed men with automated weapons.

Strongly condemning the killing of the two officers, the WWF Pakistan in a statement said the officers were killed while intercepting an attempt of illegal poaching of migratory birds.

“WWF Pakistan stands with the Punjab Wildlife and Parks Department and the families of martyrs in solidarity and strongly condemns this inhumane act,” the organisation tweeted. “WWF Pakistan urges stringent punishments against those found culpable and assures its full support.”

CEO Hammad Naqi Khan said in a statement the brutal killing of the two officials is extremely sad and shocking news for the entire team of WWF Pakistan. “These unsung conservation heroes regularly pay with their lives while trying to keep our natural treasures safe,” Khan added.

The situation prevails in Asia and Africa in particular. According to an assessment of the International Ranger Federation (IRF), over 100 field rangers (wildlife and forest staff) died on duty during 2015 alone, of which 40 percent were killed by poachers.