The federal climate change minister has urged provincial wildlife departments to boost efforts to control the smuggling of endangered species, particularly turtles and tortoises.
“It is a matter of grave concern that wildlife smuggling has significantly escalated in recent years,” said Senator Mushahidullah Khan said while chairing a high-level second meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) Management Authority. The meeting was held here on Wednesday at the Climate Change Ministry.
The smuggling of wildlife species, particularly those which are endangered, can be effectively curtailed through implementation of relevant laws and imposition of fines, he underlined.
The minister, however, called for revising fines and making wildlife protection laws more stringent to put an end to smuggling.
“Saving and protecting wildlife species, mainly turtles, is exactly like saving our children and a must for avoiding any imbalance in the biodiversity of ecosystems,” Khan said at the meeting.
Meanwhile, some 12 agenda items came under discussion during the meeting, which included progress on drafting of rules for the Pakistan Trade Control of Wild Fauna and Flora Act (TCWFF) 2012, listing of new species for CITES. ban on export of parrots/parakeets, ban on commercial export of reptiles and mammals, community-based trophy hunting programme, import of big cats by the private sector, smuggling of freshwater turtles and other species from Pakistan and the efforts of the Sindh wildlife department, among others.
IUCN country representative Mahmood Cheema briefed the meeting about the progress on the draft TCWFF Act-2102 and the modus operandi for its implementation across all the provinces.
The meeting also decided that TCWFF Act-2102 will be sent to the provincial wildlife departments for review and they will send it back to the ministry with suggestions by June 27.
A decision to form a four-member committee to decide different matters including role, functions and nature of formation of the CITES management authority, was also taken.
The body will comprise representatives from the ministry, law ministry and Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa wildlife departments.
The minister and Federal Climate Change Secretary Arif Khan supported the suggestion by Sindh wildlife conservator Javed Ahmed Mahar that a centralised system for gene sampling , gene bank and DNA barcodes of wildlife species should be established, which will help the wildlife officers, custom officers to control the wildlife smuggling.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 28th, 2015.
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