The declining population of vultures is causing a significant rise in diseases, such as rabies and anthrax, in countries in this region, including Pakistan and India.
The rotting animal carcasses also pollute ground water, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) experts pointed out at a meeting with IUCN member organisation’s national committee.
IUCN Asia’s regional director Aban Marker Kabraji mentioned that the population of vultures in South Asia was around 100 million, 20 yeas ago, but now it has gone down to 20,000. “It is one of the fastest declining bird species in the world,” he said. “It is remarkable specie that provides cleaning services free of charge.”
Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Nepal have signed an agreement in Hyderabad, India, to work collectively for vultures’ rehabilitation. “Later, this initiative will be expanded to Lao and Cambodia,” she said, adding that some members also proposed that vulture habitats in Tharparkar and Changa Manga should be declared protected areas.
“We learned at the vulture programme in Hyderabad, India, that Nagarparkar is one of the only two places in Pakistan, where vultures are still found”, said IUCN’s Javed Jabbar, appreciating the World Wildlife Fund-Pakistan’s vulture breeding programme in Changa Manga.
Several NGO representatives were concerned about the negative impact of Zulfikarabad City Project on the vulnerable ecology of the Indus Delta. They unanimously agreed that there is a need to have an authentic environmental impact assessment on the project. The members pointed out that coal exploration projects in Tharparkar also need be to checked.
Trophy hunting – hunting wild game animals – turned out to be an activity that these experts supported. Referring to a news article on the Senate proposing a ban on trophy hunting, the members said that the issue was not presented to the Senate in a proper manner.
The trophy hunting programme in Jeju, South Korea, was a success and it actually increased the number of threatened species in the natural habitats, they pointed out. Residents take special care to protect the animals when they know that they can earn thousands of dollars, an expert explained. The committee noticed that the trophy hunting programme has been confused with illegal poaching, which is a totally different issue.
The members decided to approach the Senate members and present their point of view.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 23rd, 2012.