By Ali Jabir
ISLAMABAD, Oct 13 (APP):Pangolins which were once found in abundance in the fertile plains of Punjab have now declared by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as one of the most critically endangered species around the globe.
The illegal trafficking of wildlife has posed a serious threat to the endangered species of animals across the globe. The list of illegal trafficked animals from Pakistan includes turtles, tortoises, falcons, snakes, foxes, jackals, wolves, otters, sharks and scorpions.
It is said that a pangolin captured by a local poacher is sold at Rs. 25,000-30,000 to the smugglers for exporting it to the neighboring countries. The scales of pangolin are used for producing medicine as it contains keratin.
Talking to APP, environmental experts said pangolins were the most poached species across the world and around 186 countries party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) voted for imposing ban on
the commercial trade of pangolins.
They said the illegally trafficked wildlife species of the country included fresh water turtles, tortoises, falcons used for falconry, poisonous snakes for pharmaceutical purpose, foxes, jackals and wolves for their fur, fresh water otters, sharks in the coastal area of Balochistan for its fins and scorpions for its venom.
The experts said, “The illegal wildlife trade is among the serious environmental crimes which also include illegal wild flora trade, pollution inducing activities, unmanaged waste disposal and also e-waste dumping,” they maintained.
Chief Conservator of World Wildlife Fund-Pakistan (WWF), Muhammad Waseem said the WWF has launched a community based conservation project to protect the endangered species of Pangolin.
He said the WWF had conducted a detailed study about the species existing in Potohar and Azad Jammu and Kashmir region, Attock, Jhelum, Chakwal, Rawalpindi, Mirpur, Kotli, Bhimber.
The study revealed that pangolins were found in almost all of the area focused under the research, however, at present the species merely existed on 32 percent of the area, he added.
The experts said after numerous encounters of illegal wildlife trade and poaching of pangolins, mostly found in the Punjab, the law enforcement agencies and wildlife departments have somehow decreased the illegal hunting of pangolins across the country.
However, replying to a question, the experts said main reason behind increasing wildlife trafficking and other environmental crimes in the country was weak legislation. The smugglers are also active due to negligence of relevant authorities and quarters concerned, they added.
The Chief Conservator said 65-70 percent poaching and illegal trafficking of pangolins had been controlled.
He said the WWF has sensitized the Airport Security Force and Customs officials on the issue of endangered species of pangolin who seriously took the matter to control its illegal smuggling.
Waseem said proper management plans for saving the pangolins of Pakistan was launched and every year world pangolin was marked to create awareness among the local communities.
He said pangolin protection zones were set up in Attock, Jhelum, Chakwal, Rawalpindi and AJK with proper guards deployed in collaboration with the local community.
Replying to a query, the Chief Conservator said the WWF has taken academia and students on board to focus research on the indigenous pangolins.
The WWF team used to screen a documentary in schools, colleges, universities and other institutions during its awareness and sensitization sessions in Punjab, Balochistan and Sindh.
During this entire exercise, he said the WWF had developed strong expertise on the habitat conservation.
He said, “Community level support and conservation has helped a lot to achieve 60 percent results in pangolin conservation project.”