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Too precious to survive in the wild
WWF-Pakistan's surveys 23 cities across the country to uncover trends in illegal wildlife trade

Posted on 11 May 2017

Lahore, WWF-Pakistan unveiled a report titled “An Assessment of the Scale of Illegal Wildlife Trade in Pakistan” highlighting the importance and complexities of curbing the upward trend in illegal wildlife trade in the country. The study compiled through a survey of 288 shops and street vendors across 55 markets in 23 cities indicates that while a great deal of trade in the form of pet trade is legal and is not harming wild populations, a worryingly large proportion of illegal trade is taking place under the guise of legal trade – and threatens the survival of many endangered species. Therefore, the study makes an attempt to establish a baseline of the illegal wildlife trade market in Pakistan, covering gaps in knowledge, to provide an actual scale of the trade, important areas where it is prevalent and identification of various modes in which it takes place in the country. The report is part of a larger project titled "Combating Illegal Wildlife Trade by Establishing a National Monitoring Network that Benefits Local Communities and Environment", undertaken with the financial support of USAID through its Small Grants Ambassador Fund Program.

The criterion used to select cities was based on available literature, identifying the presence of illegal wildlife trade in cities selected. Illegal trade of wildlife species was predominantly recorded in bigger metropolises like Lahore and Karachi, where the demand for exotic pets is higher as compared to other cities. Karachi was identified to host the highest number of markets and shops dealing in illegal wildlife, i.e. 12 markets and 42 shops, followed by Peshawar with seven markets and 33 shops. The survey teams recorded 55 wildlife species on sale in these markets, of which 40 per cent comprised of mammals, 39 per cent comprised of birds, 19 per cent were reptiles, while the remaining two per cent were invertbrates. Further review of the protected status of these species revealed that five of these are listed as endangered (EN) in the IUCN Red List of threatened species, four speices are listed as near threanted (NT), six as vulnerable (VU) while 18 are listed as least concerned (LC). Seven species found were listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), 15 in Appendix II and six in Appendix III. The survey teams did not find any animal markets in Islamabad, Gwadar, Jiwani, Murree or Nagar Parkar districts. The report findings also indicate that the internet has greatly expanded possibilities for traditional transit crimes such as wildlife trafficking. Further, the Ssurvey teams found 14 social media sites and the same amount of Facebook pages, actively involved in the illegal sale of wildlife in Pakistan.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Uzma Khan, Technical Advisor Wildlife, WWF-Pakistan, was of the opinion that the analysis of the challenges highlighted in the report adds important weight to the case for urgent and effective action by various stakeholders to tackle this critical threat. "With overexploitation being the second-largest direct threat to many species after habitat loss the world over, WWF-Pakistan is always on the forefront to address illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade as a priority issue. For developing countries like Pakistan, are often found lacking in appropriate equipments, training and funds to address the issue of illegal wildlife trade and it is the need of the hour to fill these loopholes."

Pakistan is home to a wide array of biodiversity, but the lack of effective management and poor law enforcement has resulted in prevalent and often unreported wildlife crime. As a source, consumer and transit country for consignments of live animals, their parts and derivatives, Pakistan is strategically located with road, air and sea transit routes that are easily accessible and not closely monitored. Pakistan is known to face trade of several species of reptiles, mammals, birds, timber, as well as medicinal plants. Commercial exploitation of these fauna and flora has been on the rise due to the established network of wildlife poachers and dealers. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) recognizes wildlife crime as the third largest transnational crime after drugs and human trafficking, which undermines state authority and socio-economic development. Besides its disastrous effects on biodiversity, there is also increasing evidence of illegal wildlife trade fuelling conflict and destabilising national security while causing great economic loss.


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Media Relations at WWF-Pakistan

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