Farewell city life: Pangolin released back into the wild
KARACHI: An Indian pangolin caught near Islamia College last week was released back into the wild on Tuesday, along with 53 black pond turtles rescued from different areas of the city last month.
Officials of Sindh Wildlife Department (SWD) and World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-Pakistan) released the pangolin in Khar centre of Khirthar National Park, located around 45 kilometres away from Karachi.
The mammal, identified as Indian pangolin, created a great stir among residents when it was found near Islamia College in the limits of Jamshed Quarter police station last week.
The animal, caught by police, was initially handed over to the Karachi Zoological Garden, and later to the SWD.
SWD conservator Saeed Akhtar Baloch said the department is keeping an eye on the illegal trade of endangered species, including pangolins, whose scales are known to be illegally exported from Pakistan on lucrative rates.
According to Rab Nawaz, senior biodiversity director at WWF-Pakistan, poaching, illegal hunting and trafficking of the animal has drastically reduced the mammal’s population in Pakistan.
He said WWF-Pakistan is working closely with provincial wildlife departments to tackle illegal wildlife trade in the country.
Altaf Hussain Shaikh, conservation manager at Sindh WWF-Pakistan, said the pangolin, a scaly anteater, is hunted for its scales which are traded illegally across the globe.
He said there is an urgent need for creating awareness among the public, especially students, as non-familiarity with the animal usually causes panic upon the animal’s discovery in public.
“In fear, people mercilessly kill the innocent and harmless creature. There have been at least four cases in the past two years in which Indian pangolins were killed in different parts of Sindh by onlookers,” he said.
Eight species of the pangolin exist in the world, particularly in Asia and Africa, and only one species – Indian pangolin – is found in Pakistan. It is sighted in various parts of the country, including hilly and sandy areas of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh. According to International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list, all species of pangolin are endangered and require immediate conservation efforts.