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KARACHI: WWF-Pakistan on Sunday marked the World Wildlife Conservation Day, warning that the looming climate change threat also poses challenges for the wild animals in Pakistan.

It said that the climate change is one of the key challenges confronting wildlife in Pakistan, which damages habitats, reduces food availability, causes migration and likely to lead the disappearance of various wild species in the country.

The country needs to assess adverse impacts of the climate change regarding the endangered animals, including resident and migratory birds, marine and freshwater dolphins, snow and common leopards, smooth-coated otters, besides pangolins among others.

The recent climatic events such as floods and widespread rains coupled with drought and wildfires have damaged the wildlife habitats and posed a serious threat to the wild species, it said.

In addition, other factors that cause a decline in wildlife including their illegal trade, hunts, conflicts with humans and their habitat loss.

Human encroachments over wild animals’ areas and water pollution are also threatening their existence, it pointed out. “All relevant government departments, conservation organizations and local communities should come forward and show a strong commitment to the conservation and protection of threatened species,” it said.

The theme for the World Wildlife Conservation Day, which is observed on Dec 4 every year, is: “Recovering Key Species for Ecosystem Restoration” that calls for practical steps to contribute to the nature conservation and restoration of wildlife in their habitats, WWF said.

“Unfortunately, despite several initiatives to save biodiversity in Pakistan, we have lost several species in the recent past and are about to lose others,” Rab Nawaz, Senior Director of Biodiversity, WWF-Pakistan said. He feared that animals like Gharial, despite being seen as recently since 1985, is now probably lost. “This crocodile, harmless to man, was hunted to extinction due to its perceived threat to fish stocks,” he maintained.

Despite challenges, he pointed out a few conservation success in Pakistan where community led and coordinated efforts have helped to enhance the population of several endangered wildlife species and their habitats. “As a result of the continued efforts of Sindh Wildlife Department, WWF-Pakistan and local fisher communities, the population of the Indus River dolphin, an endemic and endangered species of river cetacean, has almost doubled in the past two decades,” he said.

Markhor populations have also re-grown from the 1980s, though they are restricted to national parks and community managed reserves, Rab Nawaz added.

Pakistan is home for rare, unique and iconic wildlife species such as the snow leopard, Markhor, brown bear, Indus River dolphin, freshwater turtles and many others. WWF-Pakistan in collaboration with relevant government departments, corporations, academia, local organizations and communities is working on different conservation initiatives and raising awareness about the country’s wildlife and biodiversity.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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