People in Wildlife Conservation

 

 

This section is dedicated to all the people who have worked in the field of Wildlife Conservation in Pakistan. The list is in ALPHABETICAL order.

Note: Please if you are a person or know any person who has contributed his time in the field of wildlife conservation in Pakistan than please email me some information about them and the work they have done. I will be happy to include their name and pictures in the list. The e-mail address is Nausherwan@wildlifeofpakistan.com or Nausherwan81@hotmail.com

A

Ashiq Ahmad:

 

Ashiq Ahmad, presently the Conservation Director (North West Frontier Province and Northern Areas), WWF-Pakistan, is considered to be one of just a handful of experts in conservation working there. His dedication has led him to become a world reference on topics of species and wildlife preservation. A charismatic, handsome man of the Pathan tribe, very early on in life Ashiq focused on what he wanted to do. In his youth wildlife was a passion, which would later become his profession. Born in Charsadda village in the North West Frontier of Pakistan in 1947, and beginning his education in a village school, the young Ashiq's aptitude led him to graduate in Zoology, followed by a post-graduation in Forestry from Peshawar. Another feather in his cap was the M.Sc in Natural Resource Management he attained from the University of Edinburgh in the UK. Subsequent to his studies, Ashiq joined the Pakistan Forest Institute as a researcher. Very early on, whilst conducting field surveys, he was introduced to the the increasing and alarming pressures faced by wildlife species and their habitats all over Pakistan. One of the first surveys he conducted was to determine the distribution and status of crocodiles, which were reportedly on the verge of extinction in Pakistan. Ashiq covered almost all the areas where these reptiles were thought to exist. In addition to the known sites, he discovered half a dozen other places that were new to scientific records as crocodile sites. A river near the town of Sibbi in the Baluchistan Province, which was once a haven for crocodiles, now had very few, due primarily to the villagers' practice of killing these animals on sight. Investigations revealed that during this century, people developed the unusual belief that if you saw a crocodile and did not kill it, your wife stood divorced. As a conservationist Ashiq had luckily spotted several crocodiles on that trip, but as a married man he was unlucky!

THE NATURE DETECTIVE

Subsequent research on birds led him to identify the flyways and corridors of migratory birds (1980-91) and some of the factors that threaten their existence. His contribution to the conservation of these species has been invaluable. In 1982, Ashiq rediscovered the marbled teal duck (Marmaronetta angustirastris) which had been declared extinct in Pakistan. He has also recorded the sightings of swans and various species of birds which had not been seen in the country for over 60 years. Ashiq's discoveries have not been confined to bird species either. His nose for detection coupled with his experience in the field has led him to locate several new wetland sites as well. In 1985, in an effort to track the endangered Sulaiman Markhor (Capra falconeri jerdoni), an endemic wild goat, he started surveys in Pakistan's 'tribal belt' in the province of Balochistan. While on the wild goat's trail, the sleuth in Ashiq discovered that a big chunk of forest, the life blood of the local tribal people, was quickly disappearing. Fortunately for these tribals, Ashiq went on to devise a plan to protect not only these forests, but the livelihood of the local Shirani people.

TAKING A GAMBLE

In 1991, Ashiq joined WWF-Pakistan and instantly got the chance to make a real difference based on his previous discovery in the Sulaiman Mountains. He formulated a multi-faceted project that would protect the forests and biodiversity of the Sulaiman Mountains, focusing especially on protecting migratory birds from hunting in the Northwest Frontier Province, whilst demonstrating how sustainable utilization of wildlife species benefits conservation as well as the local economy. It was a new approach for the area, and it was a gamble that paid off. To save the forests of the Sulaiman Mountains, Ashiq had to face greedy contractors willing to go to any length to protect their interests. He also had to work intimately with rival tribal communities that live by their own rigid traditions and are involved in a complicated chain of conflicts and disputes. Finally, he had to risk his life convincing tribals who had been feuding for years to sit down and talk to one another. These men are known to talk with their Kalashnikov rifles first, and tongues later. The tribal belt has its own autonomous political and administrative set up. The forests, valued by the contractors and tribes in different ways, are the local people's only source of cash income. To get through this maze, Ashiq had to do two things: resolve the inter-tribal disputes, and help create alternate sources of income to reduce pressure on the forests. So far the strategy is working: a part of the forest is now protected, and the project is being extended to other parts of the mountain region. The project has its detractors, but they are not numerous or agitated enough to throw a spanner in the works. More importantly, the Shirani tribals are happy with it, especially with the prospect of gaining income from trophy hunting of the Markhor (Capra falconeri jerdoni), a mountain goat with a distinctive cork-screw horn which can fetch between $10,000 to $15,000 apiece.

BIRD TACTICS

To protect migrating birds traversing along the internationally renowned Chitral Flyway, in the Northern Areas of Pakistan, Ashiq found himself working with a society where every third person is a hunter, where any attempt to regulate hunting is considered a serious violation of local rights, and where hunters are proud to break and abuse hunting laws. In addition, politicians seek votes on the promise that the government will never interfere in hunting activities. So things were not going to be easy. Although this project is still finding its feet, Ashiq is carrying out the overall strategy with some good results. For the first time in Pakistan, private bird refuges are in place in the project area, and hunters have formed associations with their own rules and ethics for bird hunting. They are now very much aware that should they wish to continue their sport, they will need to ensure that only a sustainable amount of birds are hunted. Not only this, but they have noticed the dramatic increase in a ferocious mosquito-type insect, locally known as keeshum, whose population was previously controlled by the visiting birds who fed off them. Unless the birds are allowed to visit the area without disturbance, the keeshum are likely to proliferate. Children, have also joined hands in conservation by enlisting in conservation clubs in their schools. These youngsters begin hunting with their catapaults at a young age as they have no other entertainment. However, also on realizing the importance of these birds to the environment, hundreds have now surrendered their slingshots to WWF. As this programme could not be successful without the full cooperation of the local hunters, this project was full of uncertainties. If even one man bucked the programme, the whole process could collapse. The idea was to initiate carefully controlled commercial trophy hunting for foreigners, with the revenue benefiting the local communities. Although the government has a rule forbidding all mammal hunting, hunting ibex is permitted under license. This was allowed subsequent to Ashiq's deliberations with the government and local communities to invoke the principle of sustainable hunting practices. The ban on the export of trophies was another hurdle he had to overcome. Fortunately both sustainable hunting and exporting trophies were permitted due to the results WWF had achieved, as well as Ashiq's persuasive charm with both officials and local communities. In 1994, the government issued five ibex permits to foreign hunters, at a cost of $3000 per animal. The deal was that 75 per cent of the $15,000 revenue would go to local communities. This project has now become a precedent for others. Given the magnitude of Pakistan's environmental problems, Ashiq's efforts may seem negligible forests are still being cut down and hunting still continues unregulated. However, his work provides guidance and will become something for others to build upon. It will probably take longer than his lifetime for this to happen, and for tangible results to emerge. However, Ashiq is satisfied that, thanks to the support of the Government of Pakistan and WWF-Pakistan, he has given all he could.

 

Ahmed Khan:

 

Mr. Ahmed Khan is a 32 years old forestry graduate, presently working as Snow leopard Conservationist for a collaborative project of WWF-Pakistan and International Snow leopard Trust. Before this he worked as a wildlife manager and conservation educationist with NWFP Wildlife Department for 8 years and with University of Maine, USA for 1 year. As Wildlife manager, conducted various surveys about wildlife in NWFP. He surveyed the population of the Western Horned Tragopan in Palas and Kial valleys with Himalayan Jungle Project. As Conservation educationist Mr. Khan had a chance to introduce the subject for the first time in the region and get a first hand experience of that. Specially initiating Wildlife Clubs in Schools. Now as a Snow Leopard Conservationist for the last one and a half years, he has conducted various surveys on Snow leopard and its prey species in Chitral Gol National Park, imparted training to the park staff and also biologists from Afghanistan and working with local community for conservation of the Snow leopard.

 

B

Daniel T. Blumstein:

Daniel T.Blumstein is a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Systematics and Ecology at the University of Kansas. He has studied behavioral and ecological questions with golden, alpine, yellow-bellied, hoary, Olympic, Vancouver Island, and steppe marmots. In Pakistan he studied the behavioral ecology and alarm communication of golden marmots (Marmota caudata aurea) and their community in Pakistan's Khunjerab National Park, 1989-1993 and Himalayan Snowcock (Tetraogallus himalayensis) habitat utilization in at Dhee Sar, in Khunjerab National Park, Pakistan with J. Lopez, 1992.

 

F

Fahmida Firdous Asrar:

Fahmida Firdous Asrar is currently doing research on two turtle species in Pakistan under the Marine Turtle Project, Wildlife Department, Government of Sindh, Karachi, PAKISTAN. These two turtles are the Green Turtle(Chelonia Mydas) and th Olive Ridley(Lepidochelys Olivacea).

 

G

George B. Schaller:

George B. Schaller is a world renowned American research zoologist who worked with the New York Zoological Society. In the early 1970 he did research on the behaviour and ecology of the Wild Sheep and Goats of the Himalaya. His work in Pakistan was very intensive and much of the information about the distribution and behaviour of the wild sheep and goats in Pakistan is due to his research papers. Dr. Schaller was the first person to photograph the elusive Snow Leopard in the wild while he was studying the Markhor goat in Chitral Gol National Park. His two famous books on the wildlife of Pakistan are "Mountain Monarchs" and "Stone of Silence".

 

M

Muhammad Sharif Khan:

 

Muhammad Sharif Khan has a PhD in Zoology. He taught at Talimul Islam College from 1963 to 1999. He was Director of Herpetological Laboratory, 15/6 Darul Sadar N. Rabwah, Punjab, Pakistan. His research included taxonomy, development, and zoogeography of amphibians and reptiles of Pakistan. He worked on feeding ecology of amphibian tadpoles. Mr. Sharif Khan has written several research papers and two books in Urdu. He has collected widely in Pakistan and has photographed and described several new species of frogs, lizards, and snakes from Pakistan. His upcoming books are Color guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of Pakistan and Snakes of Pakistan (English Version).

 

p

Peter Jackson:

 

Peter Jackson is Chairman of the Cat Specialist Group of the World Conservation Union (IUCN) . The group, which includes 200 wildlife biologists and managers from 50 countries, provides advice to the union and to various international and national organisations on the science and conservation of the 36 species of wild cats. Jackson has been closely involved in wildlife conservation, especially of the tiger, for nearly 30 years. After 20 years as a foreign correspondent for Reuters newsagency, mostly in the Indian subcontinent, he became Director of Information of Wildlife Fund International,based near Geneva, in switzerland. At that time, WWF was launching its then biggest conservation appeal, Operation Tiger, and, being the only staff person who had ever seen a tiger in the wild, he volunteered to manage project operations in India and Nepal. After leaving WWF to work independently as a writer, photographer and consultant on wildlife conservation, Jackson was invited to chair the Cat Specialist Group of the World Conservation Union. As Chairman his work has taken him all over the world to visit cat conservation projects, and to meet field scientists and staff. P. Jackson first visited Iran in January 1998 to discuss conservation of the Asiatic cheetah, which survives only in Iran and neighbouring areas of Pakistan, with officials of the Department of Environment. This lead to an agreement for cooperation for research into the status and biology of the cheetah, and the development of conservation measures. In addition, he has written books on tigers and elephants, as well as articles in magazines, published in many countries. 

 

T

Thomas Jones Roberts:

 

Thomas Jones Roberts is a foremost wildlife expert and an internationally recognized ornithologist. In recognition of his services to Pakistan in the field of research on mammals and birds he was awarded the Sitara-i-Imtiaz in 1994. He is thrice the recipient of the World Wildlife Fund International Award for Conservation Merit. He is the editor of the Mammals Section of the Encyclopedia of Indian Natural History, 1986, and has also published many scientific and popular articles in various journals. His two volume work The Birds of Pakistan comprises the first complete account of the avifauna of Pakistan and is a major landmark in the field of ornithology. He is also the author of the book Mammals of Pakistan.

Tom Roberts first came to Pakistan in 1946 and retired in 1984 after serving with FAO in a pest control project in Karachi for seven years. He is a Founder Governor of World WIldlife Fund Pakistan and a member of the Sind Wildlife Management Board. He served for some years on the Punjab Wildlife Management Board and was also on the Lahore Zoo Management Board. He now lives in Anglesey (North Wales). 

 

Z

Zahid Baig Mirza:

Z.B Mirza (left) with T.J Roberts

Zahid Baig Mirza has achieved worldwide recognition for his publications of field research into the ornithology and mammalogy of Pakistan. In 1982 he recieved the President of World Wide Fund for Nature(WWF) International Award for Conservation Merit for his work in promoting awareness of wildilfe conservation among the people of Pakistan.

As a member of the Internationl Union for Conservation of Nature(IUCN) Environment Education Commission he made important contributions to increase understanding of environmental issues both locally and internationally. Mr. Mirza is a senior member of the Board of the WWF Pakistan and of its Scientific Committee. He served WW-P as administrator for six years in the 1970s. He is a life Fellow of the Zoological Society of Pakistan, President of the Centre of the Environmental Research and Conservation and one of the founders of the World Pheasant Association Pakistan.

Mr. Mirza developed the Zoological Museams of Punjab University, Basra University and Tripoli University. Subsequently as the first Director of the Pakistan Museum of Natural History, Islamabad, he was incharge of its establishment and of the training of technicians.

His knowledge of the natural history of Pakistan is based on 35 years experience and study, both in the field and through the collection and preservation of specimens. To this end he has travelled the length and breadth of the country.

               

 Zulfikar Ahmed (Squardon Leader):

 

 

Zulfiqar Ahmed is serving in Pakistan Air Force in the rank of Squardon Leader. He posses a craze for the wild life of Pakistan. Presently he is writing articles for different wildlife magazines and is also compiling a report on the behavior of Cheer Pheasant, with a view to identify and develop traits required for its effective reintroduction in the wild. 

He is also an authority on Pheasants breeding and Still Air Incubating machines. Under extremely adverse conditions he has been achieving 100% hatch results from his self made incubating machines. Two of his articles are on this website, under the Research Papers section                

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