WWF-Pakistan urges stepping up efforts to curtail wildlife trade on World Environment Day 2016
WWF-Pakistan celebrated World Environment Day (WED) across the country with an aim to encourage people to reduce the demand for illegal wildlife products and celebrate all species under threat.
In this regard WWF-Pakistan held a number of activities within the country in a bid to raise awareness within the public on illegal trade of wildlife. In Sukkur, the organization conducted an awareness workshop for animal and bird dealers, and Wildlife Department field staff at Indus Dolphin Conservation Centre. On the occasion, Taj Muhammad Shaikh, Deputy Conservator, Sindh Wildlife Department (SWD) gave an overview of wildlife in the province, the threats it faces and efforts of the SWD to control illegal wildlife trade. Representatives of the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), Sindh Forest Department and Sindh Fisheries Department also participated in the workshop and pledged to play a central role in changing attitudes of people involved in illegal wildlife trade and practices. At the end of the event a documentary on the endangered Indus river dolphin was screened in order to sensitise the participants on illegal fishing and its impact on the riverine biodiversity of the region.
Similarly, at Taunsa Barrage WWF-Pakistan along with a community based organisations (CBOs) conducted an awareness walk from WWF-Pakistan’s Taunsa Information Centre to River Inn hotel with a message to put an end to illegal poaching. At the end of the walk participants released confiscated freshwater turtles into the Indus river. Earlier in the day, a group of artists from the local communities staged a performance at Taunsa Information Centre depicting the atrocities being committed against wild animals. The performance kindled empathy amongst the participants towards the plight of wild animals in the face of illegal poaching.
In Gilgit-Baltistan, WWF-Pakistan in collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA G-B) and Naunihal Development Organization (NDO) organised an art and declamation contest for students at Boys Degree College, Harespo, Nagar district. Students from various schools and colleges of the district actively participated in the event and highlighted the importance of local wildlife in their speeches and through their artwork. In Skardu, WWF-Pakistan representatives participated in a seminar organised by International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) on ‘Zero Tolerance for Illegal Wildlife Trade’.
In Lahore, WWF-Pakistan presented a paper titled The Impacts of Over-exploitation of Resources on Domestic Consumers at Pakistan Engineering Congress (PEC). The paper reviewed water as a resource impacting the social, environmental and economic conditions of peri-urban areas of Lahore and was viewed in the context of the tragedy of commons. The paper stressed the need of taking concreate measures to develop a strategy both on a local and national level to conserve the already depleting levels of water. Similarly, WWF-Pakistan will participate in an event organised by the Environmental Protection Agency on 6 June at the Punjab Auditorium and will screen a documentary on the plight of the endangered pangolin.
Hammad Naqi Khan, Director General WWF-Pakistan, in his message on WED 2016 stressed the urgency and need to put an end to illegal trade of wildlife. “Action against illegal wildlife trade has become a high global priority with the United Nations General Assembly adopting a resolution last year urging all countries to make this a serious criminal offence. The flourishing illegal trade, if not curtailed, will rob the world of its natural treasures by pushing species towards extinction. We are at a crossroad where we must choose between mere lip service and plain old hard work towards eradicating this severe problem.” He further appealed to everyone be it the government, civil society, businesses or individuals to press everyone to do whatever they can to stop the illegal trade of wildlife.
Illegal trade in wildlife is estimated to profit criminals to the tune of $23 billion annually worldwide. It comprises everything from the lucrative trade in tiger parts in East Asia to ivory from poached African elephants. Unfortunately, in Pakistan local species like the Indian Pangolin and freshwater turtles are also under a constant threat from poachers to be sold later in the Asian black market at high prices. Given the extent of the illegal wildlife market in Asia, it is important for all countries to unite and eradicate these illegal practices.
Due to the illegal trade in wildlife products our planet is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction of both flora and fauna-the sixth wave of mass extinctions in the past half –billion years. Unlike the past mass extinctions which were a result of natural causes, the current crisis is entirely man-made. Every species extinction leads to the extinction of others bound to it in a complex ecological web. It is feared that the number of extinctions are likely to snowball in the coming decades until and unless the urgency of stepped up efforts is realised to combat wildlife crime through concrete actions at the national and international level.
This year the WED campaign aims to raise awareness on the nature of wildlife crime under the slogan Go Wild for Life, Zero Tolerance for Illegal Wildlife Trade. World Environment Day is an initiative led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) which was originally established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972. This day was first celebrated in 1973, to protect biodiversity, the ecosystem and to curb emissions to adapt and mitigate the impacts of climate change and global warming.
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