Heavy rains revive dried springs in Margalla hills

IWMB official says conservation efforts helped boost green cover in protected area


APP August 11, 2022
Margalla Hills

ISLAMABAD:

Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) Chairperson Rina Saeed Khan on Wednesday said the

recent heavy monsoon rainfalls and better protection had helped revive the dried springs of the Margalla Hills National Park (MHNP).

The MHNP is home to pristine ecology, wildlife and plant species that are sprawling over an area of 17,000 hectares facing acute threats due to wildfires, arson, poaching, hunting and tree cutting.

The IWMB chairperson said that the preservation and protection measures by the IWMB through public and community mobilisation have helped control tree cutting and enhance green cover in the protected area. Rina said the conservation efforts have also improved vegetation on hiking trails and across the national park that replenished the aquifer of the Margalla hills.

She said that massive rains and vegetation had revitalised the water level in the springs that were empty for the last several years. "The water level has improved especially at Trail-6 where all springs are filled with water stretching over some three-kilometre of area. Trail-6 is also a leopard preserve zone which is not open to the public and hence has unprecedented green cover and plants in the area." She said that the IWMB rangers and patrolling staff also successfully removed Lantana Camara which was an invasive species that used to suck lots of water from underground reservoirs.

She underlined that the IWMB staff patrolling has been enhanced in the national park to control tree cutting, pollution, littering in the protected area and bathing in freshwater springs. "The water in springs will remain till November and December this year as the experts say.

The aquifer of the Margalla Hills National Park has also filled to its maximum which is almost 30 feet deep," she said. While quoting IWMB senior board member Dr Zahid Baig Mirza, she said the overflowing water springs indicated a replenished aquifer which had attained its maximum level after rains.

“The rare sighting of wild animals and exotic birds like Barking deer and Kalij pheasants has become common sight in the morning hours at Trail-5 and Trial-3,” she said.

She said the littering on the trails had reduced after extensive public awareness sensitisation by the board staff and through social media but it was a continuous process.

Rina mentioned that wildlife species had dispersed in the national park due to ample availability of water throughout the protected area and might not be spotted frequently inside the wild area of the trails. She acknowledged the efforts of volunteers who worked a lot and guided masses to avoid throwing litter on the trails. "There used to be six bags of waste collected by the IWMB staff from Trail-5 that has reduced to only one as of now," she said adding that the national park was the most well staffed with a regular strength of 70 personnel with efficient management.

The board, she said, was waiting for the approval of the Islamabad Wildlife Management Act which was pending with the federal cabinet.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 11th, 2022.

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