Section 2: Threats to Wildlife Biodiversity
to Biodiversity. More specific threats to biodiversity are posed
by deforestation (estimated at 1% annually), overgrazing, soil
erosion, rampant hunting and fishing, and agricultural
practices. As a result, it is estimated that at least 12% of the
flora is threatened and several of the faunal species are
threatened too. However, the real status of most species remains
unknown. Some of the major threats posed by human activities are
i. Population Growth
The principal threat to
biodiversity comes from the increased pressure on natural
resources produced by high population growth and demands for
increased standards of living. The process of economic
development itself widens inequality and may force the poor to
depend heavily on natural resources, while the development
models followed, in most instances, have been incompatible with
the sustainable use of natural resources.
ii. Irrigated Agriculture
It is another major threat to
both the riverine and mangrove forests of Pakistan, which are
fast disappearing Riverine forests were rich in a wide variety
of plants such as obhan, and animals like hog, deer, jungle cat,
fishing cat, and gray and black partridges. Mangrove forests are
particularly important habitats for certain fish species as
noted earlier. Both have been identified as endangered
ecosystems, and if they disappear they take with them a unique
association of species. Marginal changes in water releases at
certain times are critical to the preservation of riverine
habitats, it might br possible to accommodate them, but if they
require water diversions at times when irrigation demands are
high and water supplies are short, the chances of being able to
maintain them are low.
Hunting has deep roots in Pakistani culture. It was the
recreation of the Moghul emperors and is still extremely popular
today. Wild animals have been hunted to extinction from hunting
pressure. Various lizards and snakes are hunted for their skins,
as are crocodiles and the larger mammals. Distributing the
natural order has other more subtle consequences. The increase
in the numbers of wild boars, jackals, and porcupines, for
example, is directly attributable to the elimination of their
predators, particularly the large cats. A greater number of wild
boars has led to the trampling and uprooting of gropes and a
reduction in the numbers of snakes, which in turn has led to an
increase in the number of rats, responsible for post-harvest
losses of grain. The loss of birds of prey has led to an
increase in undesirable bird species. And having more birds can
destroy undergrowth, through their droppings, or even the roost
tree itself, which in turn can lessen the ability to resist
water erosion, an ever-present threat in Pakistan.
iv. Deforestation and Loss of
A greater threat to wildlife than hunting, however, is probably
the disappearance of habitat or the competition with domestic
grazing animals. The closed canopy forest in the North West
Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan is reported to be shrinking
at approximately 1% per year. Pressure stem from commercial
logging (though this is not extensive), and the cleared areas.
More significant is the relentless, incremental incursions into
the forest by subsistence farmers; the killing of trees through
lopping, burning, and tapping; the development of small
agricultural plots among the trees; and excessive grazing by
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