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Wildlife Conservation Projects in Pakistan



Following are a few examples of environmental work that has been carried out in Pakistan in order to conserve species and the associated habitat. The projects cover a range of topics and issues that contribute towards the early development of Pakistan’s environment.

Himalayan Jungle Project (HJP)
The Himalayan Jungle Project (HJP) has worked since 1991 with local communities in the Palas Valley situated in two districts, Kohistan and Batgram of North West Frontier Province (NWFP), Pakistan. It aimed at protecting one of the richest areas of biological diversity in Pakistan. Its approach was to empower and enable local communities to establish sustainable, integrated natural resource management in the Valley and soto reduce any obligation to degrade the natural heritage (Bass 1994).After the completion of the first phase of the project 1991-94, an inception year (1994-95) was supported by the European Commission (EC) as a basis for consolidating the work and for building up to a further phase of the HJP. This extension provisionally termed the Palas Conservation and Development Project (PCDP), which was approved in principle by the Government of NWFP (GoNWFP) and Federal Governments through a concept paper prepared by HJP.

Project Website: N/A


Palas Conservation and Development Project (PCDP)
The PCDP extends and expands the work and approach of the HJP, which was fully operational till 1994 and later on started till 1997 with the help of Birdlife International and 1997-2000 with World Wide Fund (WWF) support. The PCDP aims to safeguard biodiversity in Palas by enabling local communities to tackle the linked causes of poverty and incipient natural resource degradation, through an integrated and participatory approach to conservation and development.

The PCDP started its five years operation in January 2001 and addresses key national and provincial policy objectives. These objectives are focused on natural resource management and poverty alleviation, notably those of the National Conservation Strategy (NCS), the Sarhad Provincial Conservation Strategy (SPCS), the Forestry Sector Master Plan (FSMP) and the Social Action Programme (SAP). PCDP will also help Pakistan to meet its obligation under the Biodiversity Conservation Convention (CBD), which the country has ratified.

Project Website: www.palasvalley.org


Indus Dolphin Project (IDP)
In 1977 the Indus Dolphin Project was born after Giorgio Pilleri’s scientific expedition (1974) revealed that in the stretch of 170 km of the River Indus there were a total of only 150 dolphins. This discovery led the Government to mark it as an endangered species and declare the area between the Sukkur and Guddu barrages as Dolphin Reserve. The IDP still continues today and has resulted in controlling the decline of this endemic mammal. The numbers have now reached over 1,000 mark.

Project Website: www.indusdolphin.org.pk


Marine Turtle Conservation Project
The Sindh Wildlife Department started this project in 1980 to protect the turtles that come to nest on Karachi’s beaches. The staff regularly collects turtle eggs from the beaches and shift them into secure enclosures. The hatchlings are then counted, weighed and measured and released into the sea. The project has managed to release 430,000 hatchlings into the sea and tagged 2,000 mother turtles.

Project Website: N/A


Kirthar National Park
This park is one of Pakistan’s Protected Areas and also a reason for many controversies. A plan to build the Indus Highway was initiated to link the Northern Areas to Karachi. Part of the road was to pass through the park, which would have seriously threatened its biodiversity. The issue was exposed by the media and NGO such as the WWF filed litigation cases against the construction through the park. These cases forced the Government to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment, which revealed that the economic benefits of the highway were far less than the negative impacts it would have.

Project Website: http://www.unescap.org/drpad/vc/conference/bg_pk_57_ihk.htm


Torghar Conservation Project (TCP)
This project is a legitimate, private, ‘grassroots’ conservation programme which was started by a group of volunteers in the Torghar Hills in Balochistan to control the illegal hunting of the Suleiman Markhor (Capra falconeri jerdoni) and Afghan Urial (Ovis vignei blandfordi), which had resulted in marked decreases in the two species. In 1985, TCP was initiated at a time when the endangered species such as the Suleiman Markhor was at the verge of extinction in one of its most important habitat of Torghar Mountain and Afghan urial were left in very few numbers. Since the inception, majority of the tribesmen were doubtful about the benefits of conservation. They believed that it would only provide jobs to af ew individual as game guards (Johnson, 1994; STEP, 2000).In 1994 an NGO called the Society for Torghar Environmental Protection (STEP) was formed to administer the project. Here as well the community participation is evident. The local people were employed as game guards to protect an area of about a 1,000 sq.km. Strictly controlled hunting is allowed to generate some revenue for the locals. There has been a trophy harvest of only 40 animals in twelve years and STEP has been able to enforce a complete ban on unauthorised hunting. According to a survey conducted in 1994 the population of both the species had gone up from 100 to more than 1900 animals. The universal acceptance of conservation truly happened with the introduction of developmental schemes that benefited the entire community. The people of Torghar have learnt that conservation when practiced correctly brings pride and economical benefits to the entire community. They have realised that flourishing populations of Urial and Markhor will guarantee a bright ecologica land economical future for Torghar.

Project Website: http://www.un.org.pk/undp/sgp/green-pioneers/chap-13.htm


Conservation of Chilghoza Forest and associated biodiversity of the Suleiman Range, Balochistan
Spread over an area of 260km2, the Suleiman Range Chilghoza Forest is the largest stand of pure Chilghoza pine in the world. In addition to serving as a critical habitat for the endemic Suleiman Markhor, the forest is an extremely vital watershed for the local residents. There are 50,000 local residents that earn a part, or all, of their income from this forest either through the sale of Chilghoza seeds or through timber related activities. In view of these threats, WWF-P undertook a pilot conservation initiative in 1992 in the Balochistan side of the forest. The five years of experience while working with the local tribal communities has led WWF-Pakistan to extend its outreach to a larger area (WWF, 2000a).The pilot project interventions and the development of rapport with the local communities provided inroads in the generally conservative, inward looking and suspicious people. Further, in the light of the success of the pilot phase and keeping in view the community’s commitment and willingness to participate in the project interventions, WWF-P planned to extend its conservation and development programme through a long term strategy.

Project Website: N/A


Maintaining biodiversity with rural community development
The principal aim of this project Pre-Investment Feasibility (PRIF) implemented on the ground by IUCN-Pakistan in collaboration with Northern Areas (NAs) and NWFP Wildlife Department is to test if conservation of Pakistan’s biodiversity can be enhanced by providing rural communities with the technical skills and necessary legal empowerment to manage wild species and habitat for long term sustainable use (IUCN, GoP and UNDP, 1999). IUCN-Pakistan and the Government of NWFP’s Wildlife Department jointly implemented this project. Rural communities were active partners in this project and over 40 villages were involved in the first two years. During the process, the objectives of the project were achieved in collaboration with the active involvement of the local communities in both areas: NWFP and NAs. The technical skills of the rural communities were enhanced in various aspects of the project activities which have resulted in the successful harvest of their wild species generating revenue for them, without jeopardizing their population status. Legal empowerment has been provided through establishment of institutional mechanisms for collaborative management of wild species with the participation of local communities and government staff. These mechanisms include joint management committees and valley level wildlife conservation plans. The hypothesis was approved in this approach that enhanced technical capacity which lead to the conservation of biodiversity.

Project Website: N/A


Mountain Areas Conservancy Project (MACP)
Based on the Pre-Investment Feasibility (PRIF) phase of the project, a full scale GEF project entitled “Mountain Areas Conservancy Project” is being implemented in the four conservancies of NWFP and NAs. This project includes the baseline information from the previous project and uses the lessons learnt during that phase (GOP, 1999).The full scale GEF project is being implemented in its full capacity in the four conservancies and the lessons learnt during the previous phase is being implemented. The lessons applied to a wide range of different communities by the project are very successful in its implementation and is leading to the long-term sustainable use of the resources. Both the biodiversity project (PRIF) and the MACP are initiatives meant to achieve goal of biodiversity conservation and management through community involvement in Pakistan. They are the best examples of integrating technical (biological) areas of work with the cross-cutting tools of socio-economic sciences, in order to support stakeholders in effectively managing their environments.

Project Website: http://www.macp-pk.org


Conservation of key wildlife species and their habitat in the Northern Areas: Northern Areas Conservation Project (NACP)
The NAs of Pakistan serve as a habitat for a number of globally significant wildlife species. There are five selected sites/valleys for this project representing rich wildlife and habitat coupled with the threats faced by these wildlife species. The valleys provide critical habitats to Musk deer (Moschus chrysogaster), Snow leopard (Uncia uncia), Astore markhor (Capra falconeri jerdoni) and Himalayan ibex (Capra ibex sibirica), Woolly flying squirrel (Eupetaurus cinereus) and the Brown bear (Ursus ursus). The survival of these species is under threat from the loss of habitat stemming from human activities, excessive hunting by locals and outsiders, and weak enforcement of wildlife protection laws (WWF,2000b).Over the project period from 1992-2000, WWF-P has been successful in implementing a hunting ban while enhancing the socio-economic conditions of the resident communities through various development activities including bridge construction, irrigation channels and agricultural crops development. These have resulted in an increase in the wildlife population ultimately generating revenue from these resources through community based trophy hunting.

Project Website: http://www.wcs.org/international/Asia/pakistan/pakistanprojects


Conservation of the snow leopards in northern Pakistan
The IUCN Red Data Book lists the snow leopard as a globally endangered species. It is estimated that the total remaining population is 7,000–10,000, out of that approximately 300 are found in Pakistan. In a pilot phase project, WWF-P has identified critical habitats of the snow leopard in a few regions and now extended its scope of activities for the conservation of this flagship species by focusing on identifying critical habitats in other areas (WWF,2000b).Looking into the different studies and applying the following lessons in this project, it is learnt that if the livestock protection is enhanced and improved through training and skill development of the grazier communities, snow leopard killing is reduced to a large extent. This project is still under implementation and the results are needed to be evaluated in detail, once the project will be completed.

Project Website: www.snowleopard.org 


Conservation of migratory birds in Chitral, NWFP
Chitral lies on the migratory route of several globally important bird species. These birds face enormous hunting pressure as it is estimated that about 200,000 of the one million migratory birds passing through Chitral are killed during migration. Given these drastic figures, WWF-Pakistan initiated efforts to reduce the hunting pressure in 1992 (WWF, 2000b).The awareness and education efforts proved quite successful when, in addition to reduced local hunting, communities also started establishing private bird refuges. In addition, establishing nature clubs in high pressure hunting areas and formation of conservation associations comprised of few known hunters has a great impact on the project.

Project Website: N/A


Himalayan Wildlife Project (HWP)
Work on the conservation of brown bears in Deosai Plains started in1993. It involved the Northern Areas Forest Department (NAFD) and the surrounding resident communities. In view of the experience with similar situations elsewhere in NAs, participatory approaches towards management based on the active involvement of the local communities needed to be explored in this project. Earlier literature reports revealed its distribution over 300km from Deosai. However hunting and capture in the recent past have drastically diminished their number, and at present the surviving population is found only in Deosai. This project was initiated with the intent to protect the brown bear from total elimination (HWP,1994). The active involvement of the local community and with the collaboration of the NAFD has resulted in the declaration of Deosai National Park and the development of its Management Plan. The surviving population has now increased to 35-40 in the year 2001from 15-20 in 1993. Effective control on the poaching by the project team and the local involvement has a great impact in achieving the project objectives. Annual monitoring of the project is under process by the HWP, the local communities and the NAFD together.

Project Website: http://hwf.org.pk


Conservation of Chiltan Markhor in the Hazarganji Chiltan National Park.
Hazarganji Chiltan National Park is located close to Quetta and is the only remaining habitat of Chiltan Markhor (Capra aegagrus chialtanensis) in the country. WWF-Pakistan with the financial support of World Bank was involved in developing the management plan of the park and its subsequent implementation with the Balochistan Forest Department. The endemic Chiltan Markhor is only found in the Hazarganji Chiltan National Park of Balochistan (WWF, 2000b), which made the basis of this project. In collaboration with the provincial government, WWF-P has prepared a comprehensive management plan for the conservation of biodiversity in the Hazarganji Chiltan National Park. The plan
lays a special emphasis on improving the status of the Chiltan Markhor and has designed extensive activities for this purpose. These activities are based on the lessons learnt during the planning stages of developing this plan. The failures in the effective implementation of the plan were due to information gap between the Balochistan Forest Department and WWF-Pakistan.

Project Website: N/A


Protected Areas Management Project
This project will help conserve nationally and globally important habitats and species in Pakistan's three Protected Areas of Machiara in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Hingol in Balochistan, and Chitral Gol in the North-West Frontier Province. It will specifically benefit the poor and women of the custodian communities, who make the most intensive use of natural resources due to lack of other opportunities, by providing skills training and micro-credit. The project will seek to conserve natural habitats and arrest the decline of species; improve the capacity of government agencies and community institutions; improve collection of bio-diversity data; and support environmental awareness campaigns for the general public, school children and tourists. The preliminary work on these PAs has been initiated in there spective regions in collaboration with the relevant stakeholders. All the issues as mentioned above will be undertaken keeping in view the processes involved in it including the stakeholders’ analysis, need identification, community and local NGOs/CBOs network involvement. This will help involve all the stakeholders in developing the management plans for all PAs and their subsequent implementation. These processes will pave a long way for the effective monitoring of the PAs in future which will help improve the biodiversity of the parks.

Project Website: http://www.gefonline.org/projectDetails.cfm?projID=87


Bear-baiting in Pakistan
Bear-baiting is an age old activity in the sub -continent that came with the Britishers. This game became popular in the region especially amongst the big landlords and gypsies. The herders or the graziers during livestock grazing capture the bear cubs from the wild, sell them to the trainers who ultimately train them and later on purchased by the gypsies. WWF-Pakistan on the request of several national and international organisations conducted a nation wide survey of the bear-baiting in Pakistan. This revealed some useful information regarding the number of captive bears and the cruelty to animals during bear baiting. WWF-Pakistan has been successful in collaboration with the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) in imposing a ban on this illegal practice. The district administration in each bear-baiting zone played an active role in putting an end to this cruel sport. This ban has led to a sharp decrease in the capture of bear cubs from the wild and paved a long way in improving the status of ear species especially the Himalayan black bear.

Project Website: http://www.wspa.org.uk/campaigns.asp?campaignType=5


Protection and Management of Pakistan Wetlands Project
The Protection and Management of Pakistan Wetlands Project is a UNDP/GEF funded project under the PDF-B phase (UNDP, 2000). The executing agency is the Government of Pakistan, which has delegated the implementation responsibility of this project to WWF Pakistan. The overall objective of this phase is to undertake the necessary preparatory work and lay a strong foundation for the successful implementation of the full GEF project for the conservation and sustainable use of the biodiversity of Pakistan wetlands. The full GEF project will contribute towards the fulfilment of the Government’s obligations under various conventions. The project will strengthen government and local capacity to protect and manage selected representative and globally important wetlands ecosystems. The project would also develop mechanisms to involve local communities, line departments and NGOs to conserve and manage the wetland ecosystems (GoP & GEF, 1999).During the PDF (B) Phase, four different wetland complexes were identified through GIS and remote sensing techniques. Additionally, field work was carried out to establish floral and faunal baseline data in collaboration with the line departments and local NGOs/CBOs. Threats to these resources were identified in collaboration with the key stakeholders – the communities. This project was very useful in collecting information at very low level especially at the planning stage that fed into the detailed project document for funding by the international donors. This project objective is based on two sub -sets of objectives: The first address important issues such as policy, awareness and creation of an enabling environment for wetlands conservation at the national level and the other deals with the management of four wetlands complexes, carefully selected to broadly represent conditions in each of four wetlands eco-regions in the country.

Project Website: http://www.pakistanwetlands.org/


Credits and Reference:

  • Review of Approaches to Species Conservation in Pakistan, Masood Arshad, Palas Conservation and Development Project (PCDP), January 2003

  • Nausherwan Ahmed


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Updated January 14th, 2007