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WWF-Pakistan appreciates efforts of Sindh Wildlife Department in curbing illegal wildlife trade

Posted on 10 September 2016

Karachi,WWF-Pakistan appreciates efforts of the Sindh Wildlife Department in dismantling another wildlife trafficking ring in Sindh. The Department confiscated 780 black-spotted turtles on Friday 9 September from Khayaban-e-Rahat, DHA, Karachi and arrested nine traffickers including three foreigners.

Sharing his comments, HammadNaqi Khan, Director General, WWF-Pakistan said that illicit wildlife trade of freshwater turtles, particularly in black pond turtles is escalating with every passing day in Pakistan and about 850 black-spotted turtles have so far been confiscated by law enforcement agencies during 2016 on different occasions. WWF-Pakistan, therefore, expects that the relevant lawenforcement agencies will conduct a thorough investigation to unveil shadowy networks behind this lucrative and transnational crime in Pakistan. He also said that the legal action and penalties against the offenders should be aligned with the Pakistan Trade Control of Wild Fauna and Flora Act 2012 to set an example for others involved in similar criminal activities. A revision in the Sindh Wildlife Protection Act is therefore critical, to give a proper coverage to the illegal wildlife trade and enhance penalties against the wildlife traffickers to discourage this crime, he added.

All freshwater turtle species of Pakistan are protected under the Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa, Punjab and Balochistan wildlife protection acts and are included in the revised Wildlife Protection Act of Sindh. Despite this, their illegal trade continues. Black-spotted turtles are listed in Appendix-I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and their trade in any form is globally restricted. Pakistan is a signatory of the convention and the smuggling of these turtles is a clear violation of CITES regulations. Regional scale investigations on the increasing illegal trade of black-spotted turtles from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh to East Asian countries indicates an overall increase in demand and growing network of wildlife traffickers.

Key drivers of illegal wildlife trade in Pakistan are inadequate implementation of legislation; weak penalties that are ineffective deterrents for smugglers; lack of government resources (including capacity, equipment, technology, etc) to enforce legislation;and poverty, etc. WWF-Pakistan, therefore, is in the process of finalising a National Plan of Action (NPOA), which is being developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Climate Change through a stakeholder consultation process to address the challenges of wildlife trafficking. This NPOA includes recommendations to improve and strengthen existing legislations to deal with wildlife trafficking in Pakistan, to eliminate loopholes and to impose sufficiently high penalties for wildlife crimes. Concurrently, the NPOA emphasises enhancing the multi-stakeholder coordination and capacities including those of law enforcement agencies, welfare aspects of rescues, and confiscated wildlife species.

WWF-Pakistan, besides developing the NPOA, has also build capacities of more than 200 representatives of lawenforcement agencies covering the key aspects of illegal wildlife trade. Additionally, wildlife information desks are being setup in collaboration with the Civil Aviation Authority and provincial wildlife departments to increase vigilance over wildlife traffickers at important exit points of the country.

Illegal wildlife trade has been recognised as the second biggest threat to wildlife after habitat destruction and is estimated to generate USD 23 billion annually. Wildlife trafficking also undermines state authority, impacting national and global security and socio-economic development. Governments across the world are making a concerted effort to reign in this destructive industry and this is the very reason that the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) recognizes wildlife crime as the third largest transnational crime after drugs and human trafficking, because undermines state authority and socio-economic development.


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