Insufficient data about the status of wildlife and their habitats presents a major roadblock for efforts for their conservation and protection in Pakistan. Hence, the Ministry of Climate Change (MoCC), in collaboration with globally recognised wildlife conservation organisations, has decided to prepare the first-ever Pakistan-specific ‘Red Data List’ of wildlife species in the country which are threatened with extinction.
This was stated by MoCC Secretary Hassan Nasir Jami on Tuesday.
For this purpose, the ministry will conduct a survey.
“The Pakistan Red Data List will be the most comprehensive inventory of the wildlife plants, animals, and other organisms of global importance that will help guide and boost actions for conservation and protection of wildlife species threatened with extinction risks of varying degree in Pakistan,” Jami said.
Data collected for the Pakistan-specific Red List will be based upon a precise criteria which is used globally to evaluate the extinction risk posed to thousands of species and subspecies, the climate change secretary said.
Acting MoCC Inspector General Forest and Pakistan Red List Initiative team leader Suleman Warraich said that nearly 50 wildlife scientists and biodiversity experts, researchers, surveyors, university students from International Union for Conservation of Nature-Pakistan (IUCN-Pakistan), World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-P), Zoological Survey of Pakistan, Wildlife Conservation Society Pakistan have been engaged for collecting the data. They will visit various parts of the country to complete a survey of existing wild animals, plants and other organisms and the threat to their survival.
Before sending the teams into the field, he said that they will undergo capacity-building training to use the appropriate methodologies, survey tools and techniques with accuracy and precision.
“The Red List will be an indicator of the health of the country’s biodiversity, which is beset with various risks, which makes it much more than a list of species and their status. Besides, it will prove to be a powerful tool to inform and catalyse action for biodiversity conservation and policy change, critical to protecting the natural resources we need to survive,” Warraich highlighted.
“It will also provide information about the range, population size, habitat and ecology, use and trade, threats and conservation actions that will help inform necessary conservation decisions,” the inspector said.
IUCN country representatives, WWF-Pakistan, WCS lauded the climate change ministry’s efforts for launching the nation-wide survey of the wildlife, their current status and risks to their survival.
IUCN-Pakistan Director Mehmood Akhtar Cheema said: “The climate change ministry’s efforts for rolling out a first Pakistan-specific Red Data List will go a long way in conservation and protection of wildlife species, particularly those which are at a heightened risk of extinction.”
He pledged to extend every possible support to the ministry’s efforts regarding the Red Data List at all levels, as these efforts are seen as unprecedented and are vital to protecting and conserving the wild animals and plants in the country, most of which are already grappling with risks of extinction due to environmental change, poaching, hunting and other reasons.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 23rd, 2019.
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