The wildlife department of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) has not conducted a survey in areas hit by floods and militancy since 2010, endangering the fate of 458 species of birds, 98 mammals and 44 reptiles, pushing scores of them towards extinction.
The K-P wildlife department conservator, Safdar Ali Shah, told The Express Tribune that due to ongoing military operations, a comprehensive survey has not been conducted since the 2010 floods. “A wide-ranging survey is needed to determine the actual count of wild animals especially in the areas of Swat, Dir and Kohistan.
“This survey should have been conducted right after the restoration of peace in Swat,” he said.
Minster for the Environment and Forests Wajid Ali Khan, said that no apparent harm was done to the ecosystem after floods and military operations as department personnel and the general public did not report any dead wild animals.
“The marine life was completely washed away from narrow streams and from River Swat and Panjkora.”
Floods that hit in 2010 destroyed thousands of fish hatcheries in K-P. But the environment ministry has worked on recovering the losses and has achieved satisfactory success.
Talking about seeking public support for wildlife conservation efforts, he said, the government will soon launch a special programme for the management and protection of wildlife in the province. “So far, 200 community clubs have been established in various parts of the province and its members are engaged in the promotion of forests, the environment and wildlife,” he added.
The department chief conservator, Muhammad Mubarak Shah, said that due to the floods, K-P suffered a serious blow in conservation of Chinkara. Seventy precious deer perished along with other rare animals in the province.
Since then the department has doubled the effort. In April, 100 Chinkara deer were released in Kund Park, Attock. The park is situated on the edge where River Chitral and River Kabul unite and form Indus River. The raging water had swept away deer, pheasants, two leopards and a number of birds, he added.
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) last year carried an ecological assessment, which mainly focused on the losses marine life sustained during floods in Upper Swat. They found that marine life was completely destroyed.
Ibrahim, head of WWF K-P told The Express Tribune that only one trout fish was found in a stream in Upper Swat valley.
He said: “Unfortunately we do not have any data available about the losses of wildlife as no comprehensive study has been done so far.”
In the provincial budget of 2012-2013, only Rs 1,117.28 million out of Rs300 billion has been allocated for forests, wildlife and the environment. According to experts, this is insufficient to recover the wildlife losses inflicted during the flood.
An NGO, Belour Advisory and Social Development Organisation, conducted a survey in 2004. Listed on the K-P wildlife official website, it declared ibex, markhor, musk deer, urial, snow leopard, wolf and lynx endangered species.
According to Safdar Ali Shah, due to drastic climate changes and human interference it is hard to give approximate numbers of the remaining endangered species in the province.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 8th, 2012.