Breathing new life into NWFP wildlife

PESHAWAR: Almost two decades ago wildlife had not been given much attention as people used it either for decoration of their bungalows or hunting it as a hobby.

Man and wildlife conflicts, habitat degradation, poaching, livestock grazing, unsustainable agriculture practices, soil erosion, industrial and urban pollution were among the factors responsible for non-conservation of wildlife. However, the situation has considerably changed in the NWFP in the recent past due to the effective measures taken by the NWFP Wildlife Department.

Establishment of protected areas, national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, game and private-community reserves and peasantry forms across the province are one of the few steps taken by the wildlife department in a bid to strengthen wildlife conservation and protection programme to guard the endangered species for sustainable environment and eco-system.

Sensing gravity of the situation, the NWFP government has decided to establish a Wildlife Wing in 1975 that was later upgraded to an attach department in the Environment Department in 1995 so as to assess the government in formulation of enabling policy, legislation and regulations for the uplift of wildlife in the province.

As many as five national parks in Ayubia, Chitral, Sheikh Badin, Saiful Malook and Lalashure, three wildlife sanctuaries in Agram Basti, Borakka and Manshi and 36 games reserves have been set up aimed at wildlife’s and biodiversity’s conservation and protection in the province, Dr Mumtaz Malik, chief conservator NWFP Wildlife Department who is the architect of the conservation programme told APP during an interview here on Sunday.

The Tanda wildlife park over an area of 1133 hectare, Kotal wildlife park (100 hec), Togh Mangara Safari park (1,214 hec) in Wildlife Division Kohat, Kund wildlife park at Jehangira in Swabi and Dhodial peasantry in Manshera besides 17 private game reserves and 55 community game reserves have been established to conserve and protect rare species, he added.

As for as human resource development and capacity building programme is concerned, he said three DFOs wildlife will be sent for MS degree to the UK in December next, saying that four SDFOs wildlife are currently under training in the University of Montana, USA, for MS degree in wildlife conservation. He said 50 per cent of the officers of the department have been trained.

When asked about the ongoing donor-funded projects, he said a gigantic Mountain Areas Conservancy Project (MACP) of Rs 589.95 million has been launched to strengthen institutional and human capacities of community level organisations for planning and management of wildlife.

The Protected Areas Management Project (PAMP) of Rs 193.478 million is another project under way with an objective to reduce park-people conflicts by integrating local communities into park planning and management activities, said Dr Mumtaz.

When quizzed about the ongoing PSDP projects, he said an implementation of management plan for the Ayubia National Park, Abbottabad, costing Rs 72.71 million has already been launched and would be completed in June 2010. “We will give focus to improve the operational capabilities of the field staff, improvement of park infrastructure and establishment of park endowment fund besides improvement of tourist facilities,” said Dr Mumtaz Malik.

Likewise, the Chitral wildlife park of Rs 37.386 million is another ongoing project to propagate the endangered species including Chinkara, Urial, Goral and Blue Bull in hilly Cherat in Nowshera district, he said.

The wildlife chief said his department has proposed four mega projects of Rs 961 million aimed at implementation of biodiversity-related international conventions in the province, awareness raising for sustainable development of biodiversity and for community participation for conservation of wildlife in the province. These projects have been submitted to the federal government for approval under the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP), he added.

He said one of the projects is “Institutional Strengthening and capacity building” in the NWFP Wildlife Department for implementation of biodiversity-related international conventions in the province. The project’s proposed cost is Rs 198.86 million that is aimed at implementation of convention on biological diversity, convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora, convention on conservation of migratory species of wild animals.

The second project, he said, is titled as Conservation Education and Awareness Raising for Sustainable Development of Biodiversity. The estimated cost of the project is Rs 122.234 million and would be complete in five years after approval by federal government.

The third project is Management of Saiful Maluk and Lalusar National Parks in Kaghan Valley to be completed at a cost of Rs 162.226 million, said Dr Mumtaz. The objectives of the project is to protect and rehabilitate endangered wild species and their habitat in the dry temperate ecosystem including snow leopard, black bear, marmot, weasel, lynx, leopard, Himalayan snow cock, snow partridge.

The fourth project is Wildlife Conservation through Community Participation in the NWFP. The project, costing up to Rs 499 million, would be completed in seven years following the approval.

“We will establish a wildlife zoo in Peshawar at a cost of Rs.50 million,” Dr Mumtaz said, adding that the project would start in current fiscal year.

Similarly, establishment of a wildlife safari park in Malakand with an estimated cost of Rs 20 million would be completed in 2008.

Work on Palas Conservation and Development project in Khistan costing Rs 5 million, establishment of Partridge Breeding Centre in Agha Laraly Dir Lower and Karak at cost of Rs 10 million and Management of Water Foul in the NWFP costing Rs 5 million will start soon.

The total ADP of the wildlife department, which was just Rs 8 million in 1997-98 has jumped to record Rs 78 million in 2006-07, he said.

Conservation and development of wildlife in Mardan and establishment of a database and planning wing in the NWFP Wildlife Department have also been planned, said Dr Mumtaz.

The wildlife chief said the NWFP is the only province which supports all the four sub-species of Markhor out of five found in the country including Kashmir, Kabul, Laddakh and Afghan Markhor and eighty species of wild cat including snow leopard and common leopard.

Dr Mumtaz Malik underscored the need for coordination among the government and private organisations, participation of community in wildlife conservation, strengthening of protected areas network particularly in national parks and strengthen of conservation awareness as well as sustainable development of wildlife.

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