Measures to curb illegal wildlife trade proposed
ISLAMABAD: Speakers at a workshop on Wednesday called for making illegal wildlife trade a serious, and strengthening conservation departments to tackle the problem, which has seen an unprecedented increase in recent years.
Speaking at the event on Combating Illegal Wildlife Trade by establishing a National Monitoring Network that benefits local communities and the environment, the prime minister’s focal person on climate change, Syed Rizwan Mehboob, emphasised the need to dismantle the supply chain of illegal wildlife trade in Pakistan.
He also suggested policymakers consider ways to tackle key causes of the trade, particularly poverty and unemployment. “Local communities should be offered to support government efforts in addressing the menace of illegal wildlife hunting and trade,” the conservationist said.
“Awareness-raising among relevant stakeholders, capacity building of law enforcement agencies and custom officials and convincing them of the severity and fallout of illegal wildlife trade is critical to efforts aimed at weeding out wildlife trade,” he said.
PML-N parliamentarian Muhammad Moeen Wattoo also put in an appearance to show government support. He said: “Around the globe, wildlife is being bought and sold on an increasingly colossal scale as pets, meat, food, medicine, furs, feathers, skins and trophies. Globally illicit wildlife trafficking is valued at billions of dollars per year – behind narcotics and illegal arms trades – and the situation in Pakistan is highly upsetting.”
He believed that continuing unlawful trafficking of wildlife species to different countries from Pakistan was due to the weak implementation of the relevant laws, technological deficiencies and a lack of capacity of the relevant government departments, including security agencies.
Mr Wattoo told participants that the Prime Minister’s Green Pakistan Programme aims to protect wildlife species and strengthen the institutional capacity of government departments to fight illegal wildlife trafficking through inter-provincial cooperation and coordination.
Organised by the climate change ministry and the Wildlife Fund for Nature, Pakistan (WWF), with financial support from USAID, the event reviewed key recommendations of the draft National Plan of Action (NPoA) to Combat Illegal Wildlife Trade in Pakistan. The event sought suggestions from experts on the draft NPoA from the Federal Management Committee of Pakistan, for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
The climate change ministry’s Inspector General of Forests Syed Mahmood Nasir said in his inaugural address that illegal wildlife trade is recognised as the second biggest threat to wildlife, after habitat loss.
He said it is estimated to generate $23 billion annually, around the world, and expressed hope that the draft NPoA would serve as a coping strategy for Pakistan to deal with challenges to curbing wildlife crimes.
WWF Pakistan Director General Hammad Naqi Khan called the NPoA an excellent opportunity to strengthen the knowledge and skills of law enforcement agencies, and develop partnerships among them to curb wildlife crimes.