The term 'species
of special concern' is defined to include endangered, threatened
and nationally important species, irrespective of their global
Section 3: Species of Special Concern
Though little data is available, there is little reason
to believe that Pakistan's biota is exempt from this rapid
decline. Within the last 400 years, at least four mammals are
known to have disappeared from Pakistan: the tiger (Panthera
tigris), swamp deer (Cervus duvauceli), lion (Panthera leo) and
the Indian one-horned Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis). A
further four species are also extinct: the Asiatic cheetah (Acinonyx
jubatus venaticus), the Indian wild ass (Equus hemionus khur)
and the Hangul (Cervus elaphus hanglu) have most likely become
extinct in recent decades (Roberts 1977, Khan and Hussain 1985).
The fourth species, the blackbuck (Antelope cervicapra) was
listed as an extinct species but has been bred in captivity.
The latest IUCN Red List of Threatened
Animals (IUCN 1996) lists 37 species and 14 sub-species of
internationally threatened or near-threatened mammals that are
found in Pakistan (Appendix A). Of these, two are critically
endangered, nine endangered, 11 vulnerable, 23 near-threatened,
five data deficient and one conservation dependent. The
critically endangered mammals are the Balochistan black bear (Ursus
tibetanus gedrosianus) and the Chiltan goat (Capra aegagrus
chiltanensis). The full list of threatened and near-threatened
mammals includes: four species of bats (Chiroptera), two species
of primates, three species of dogs (Canidae), three species and
two sub-species of cats (Felidae), one species of otter (Mustelidae),
and one species and one sub-species of bear (Ursidae). The list
also names three species of cetacean, one species and one
sub-species of Artiodactyla, one sub-species of Cervid, 11
species and nine sub- species of Bovidae (antelopes, goats,
sheep, etc.), one species of pangolin (Manidae), and seven
species of Rodentia.
Twenty-five internationally threatened birds
(one critically endangered, two endangered, and 22 vulnerable)
and 17 internationally near-threatened birds are found in
Pakistan (Collar and Andrew 1994, IUCN 1996) (see Appendix B).
One critically threatened bird is the lesser florican (Eupodotis
Ten internationally threatened reptiles occur
in Pakistan (three endangered, three vulnerable, three near
threatened and one data deficient), but there are no
internationally threatened amphibians in Pakistan (IUCN 1996)
(see Appendix A). The latest Red Data Book (IUCN 1996)
additionally lists one species of fish, the spiny eel (Macrognathus
aral) and one species of invertebrate, a butterfly (Hyles
hippophaes) as data deficient.
Lists of internationally threatened species show only the tip of
the iceberg. For example, while only 5% of European birds are of
global conservation concern, a further 33% have unfavourable
conservation statuses in Europe (Tucker and Heath 1994). While
there is little data available to demonstrate the decline of
species' populations in Pakistan, the accelerating loss,
degradation and fragmentation of habitats clearly imply such
declines. Habitat fragmentation isolates the population of a
species, exposing them to a higher rate of loss of genetic
diversity and a higher risk of extinction (UNEP 1995). A few
preliminary attempts have been made to draw up national lists of
threatened species. These include a list of some 500 species of
plants believed to be nationally rare or threatened (Davis et
al. 1986). No comprehensive and systematic list of species of
national concern has been compiled for Pakistan. Such a list
would include species, which are nationally rare and declining,
and those that are nationally rare, and not declining, but
otherwise at risk (e.g. from population fluctuations, natural
catastrophes, indiscriminate killing, etc.). The list would also
include those that are highly localized in distribution and
those, which are still widespread and common but are suffering
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