By Ayesha Aftab
The hazards of the fauna of Pakistan are no longer a subject of consideration since the urbanization and development have taken over. Over the course of years, mistreated and almost abandoned animals have undergone the consequences of deterioration of their natural habitat caused by deforestation and several other human activities. In order to maintain the stability of the environment, biodiversity plays a crucial role. Anthropogenic activities like desertification have had serious impacts on faunal species that are vulnerable to losing their habitation and eventually disperse.
Prevailing economic demands and increasing population in Pakistan have led to an exigency of cutting down of trees due to the negligence of laws associated with the ecology of the animals. On a lighter note, the significance of wildlife can be determined by the value it has in the aesthetic frame of reference, and not only that but scientific, commercial and ecological as well. Taking the threats to wildlife into account, habitat loss is foremost. Animals are increasingly losing their habitat especially in the north of Pakistan, including Kashmir, Hunza, and Chitral.
There is a prevailing need of residence for the increasing citizenry that has caused cutting down of trees for housing development. Markhor, the representative animal of the country, is under the list of endangered species inhabited in this region usually hunted for their horn, fur, and meat. Mountain bear, Asian black bear, Balochistan forest dormouse, vole, Marco Polo sheep, snow leopard, long-billed vultures, and Siberian cranes make up the rest of the list. Needless to mention how infrastructure has led to desertification of land areas in numerous citified and remote areas causing loss of habitat for wildlife. developing industrialization, advancements in urbanization and modernization have all played their part in wildlife depletion.
Furthermore, pollution, irrespective of its types from air to marine and soil, has caused several animals to lead to their erasure. Adverse effects have wolfed down multiple rare aquatic and avian species that are gradually moving towards their extinction. Mining, especially in Balochistan province, also contributed to the factor. Baluchistan Wildlife Protection Rules 1975 and Wild Birds and Animals Protection Act were obliviously breached during the geological surveys conducted in search of natural resources. Wildlife is a redeeming feature of the country that represents cultural heritage and nationalism.
In addition to maintaining the ecological equilibrium, the presence of wildlife is a determinant of the quality of the environment in a country which signifies its gravity. Considering that, indiscriminate hunting of the animals for idiosyncratic and cash generating potentiality, has resulted in the reduction of these invaluable creatures. Generally, the hunt is on the basis of utilizing their fur for clothing, horns for ornamental purposes and further for cuisine. Climate change hasn’t had any less of an effect on these unfortunate beings. Air pollution caused by passenger vehicles, coal burning and use of underdeveloped machinery in industrial areas severely harms the ecosystem and biodiversity in the environment. Species that humans transport from one area to another and later release them for the establishment in the wild threatens their availability to food resources that ultimately gives an outcome of animal starvation and vulnerability to extinction.
Pakistan is home to some of the rarest wild species that provides great opportunities for their illegal trade. Wildlife crime disturbs the ecosystem and poses a grave impact on endangered wildlife. However, it takes individual attention and a greater stretch of the imagination in order to understand how illicit wildlife trade is not just a minor environmental injustice as the UNODC states it as one of the largest transnational crimes across the globe.
Geographical location of Pakistan is a contributory element in this lucrative business. Transit routes are easily accessible and are not closely monitored by authorities. Inadequate implementation of legislation is accommodating the smugglers making it unchallenged for them to target these species.
Albeit, the gist of the subject is often inadvertently overlooked, their conservation. wildlife in Pakistan is facing a number of challenges and their protection is the least sensitized. National parks and wildlife sanctuaries are the prime exertions when the related organizations are encouraged to share their schemes and recommendations. There are approximately 70 sanctuaries in Pakistan that are recognized by IUCN including Lehri nature park, Naltar wildlife sanctuary, Islamabad wildlife sanctuary etc.
Researches are conducted to put the seal of approval on the actions taken in order to preserve nature. By the same token, educating the public about violent targeting of wild creatures for personal advantages would also be beneficial. Environmentalists should be encouraged to recognize the difficulties of wildlife and accordingly introduce an investment plan that will go in the favour of the preservation of nature. Imposing heavy customs and fines on illegal hunting and trade of wild species also involves productive practicalities.
World Conservation Union acknowledges the distribution and status of threatened species and is currently working on developing awareness about the importance of biodiversity and guiding about their conservation projects in order to further avoid any extinction of forest habitat. Several projects including Himalayan wildlife project, Kirthar national park project, Indus dolphin project, mountain areas conservancy project were all a product of unions involved in the protection of wildlife. Taking this into consideration, the documented endangered species list has been categorized and extinct, endangered, vulnerable and rare species have been branched off in their respective division. This step made it coherent to take appropriate measures for the involved authorities. Moreover, breeding programmes for endangered species can also be promoted to reproduce the vulnerable species.
Taking everything into account, wildlife is reducing at an alarming rate and government appears incognizant of this. For this reason, in the “OMNIUM GATHERUM” of political and economic discourse, wildlife must be highlighted and given particular attention on the behalf of silent and wordless creatures we have lost to human pleonexia.