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Experts callonyouth to conserve wildlife

Posted on 3 March 2017

Karachi,From 1970 to 2012 nearly 58 per cent of all vertebrates including fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals have been wiped out directly as a result of human appetite and activities. If the prevailing trend continues by 2020, the planet willhave lost two-thirds of its wildlife species.This canonly be reversed if we accelerate and intensify our actions and investments which support wildlife conservation in thelong run’. This was stated by Hammad Naqi Khan Director General, WWF-Pakistan on World Wildlife Day 2017.Human activities and the accompanying use of non-renewable natural resources have grown so dramatically that since the mid-20th century, environmental conditions that fostered our development and growth are beginning to deteriorate. He also shared that WWF-Pakistan is makingall possible efforts to restoreand conserveendangered wildlife species particularly freshwater and marine cetaceans, Indus river dolphins, turtles, gyps vultures, and snow and common leopards among others. In this regard, he also mentioned the successful breeding of critically endangered Oriental white-backed vultures in captivity at the Changa Manga Vulture Conservation Centre, Lahore. He shared that this is the second year of successful breeding of the species in a row in Pakistan where two healthy white-backed vulture chicks hatched in January. He emphasized the need to understand the scale of human impact on the vanishing population of wild species and develop a robust mechanism to address this issue.

The theme for 2017 listening to the young voices highlights the vital role of youth in tackling conservation issues. It also provides an opportunity to engage and empower the youth who can make a significant contribution towards species conservation in the country. In this regard, WWF-Pakistan under its School Outreach Programme and Youth Development Programme engages more than 125,000 students including teachers across country. The programmes focus mainly on creating more mature and environmentally conscious students and future generation.

Ali Dehlavi, Regional Head Sindh and Balochistan, WWF-Pakistan shared that habitat loss, environmental degradation, illegal trade and climate change are among the most alarming challenges faced by wildlife in Pakistan. The observed decline in species populations is also inextricably linked to the state of ecosystems that sustain them. Destruction of these ecosystems represents a risk not just to resident plants and wildlife, but to humans as well. Hence, WWF-Pakistan, in coordination with relevant organizations, isimplementing various initiatives to address these challenges coupled with the revival of diverse ecosystems across the country. He further elaborated that as the youth are the future custodians of wildlife, they must develop their interest and take steps for protection of wild species.

Muhammad Moazzam Khan, Technical Adviser Marine Fisheries, WWF-Pakistan shared that theorganization is actively working for the conservation of marine animals, which are an important part of the coastal and offshore ecosystems.In this context, crew based observer programmes and awareness campaignswere initiated under the Marine Programme of WWF-Pakistan, which have achieved significant success in the of conservation of marine megafauna. He informed that so far 48 whale sharks, 23 manta rays, 10 sting rays, 15 sea snakes, 4 dolphins, 3 guitarfishes, 3 baleen whales, 1 beaked whale, 11 sunfish, 4 brown boobies, 4 diamond squids and more than 20,000 marine turtles have been safely released over the last three years. He also informed that a rare Arabian humpback whale was sighted on around 47 occasions in the offshore waters of Pakistan recently. This indicates that this rarest mammal is also found in Pakistani waters.

He further pointed out that for conservation of sharks, whose population is under extreme threats, WWF-Pakistan has approached Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to imposea ban on carrying shark fins, as many other international airlines have already done. ‘This action will alone ensures protection of threatened shark species in Pakistan,’ he added. WWF-Pakistan, in collaboration with Sindh Forest and Wildlife Departments also organized an event at Lungh Lake, Larkana which was attended by more than 100 people including students from Government High School, Larkana; officials from the Sindh Forest and Wildlife departments and WWF-Pakistan. Participants planted more than 300 saplings of local trees and released around 70 birds confiscated by Sindh Wildlife Department.

The current theme of World Wildlife Day 2017 encourages youth around the world to rally together to address the major threats to wildlife including habitat degradation, pollution, over-exploitation, illicit trafficking and climate change. WWF-Pakistan believes that as youth are future custodians of the environment and wildlife, they can play a significant role in conservation and protection of wild species.


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