Implementation of wildlife laws on illegal trade was also criticised at the meeting
A national monitoring network will be set up to combat the illegal animal trade. The decision was taken at a World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Pakistan) board meeting on Sunday.
Addressing the meeting, Director Hammad Naqi said the project would be funded and monitored by the USAID.
Naqi said illegal trade in animals, especially birds and turtles, had been growing across the country. He said animal trade had become the fourth most profitable business in the world.
He expressed concern over lack of surveillance at airports to prevent animal smuggling.
He said the WWF had released hundreds of fresh water turtles and other confiscated marine life back into their habitat.
Implementation of wildlife laws on illegal trade was also criticised at the meeting. The directors said the Wildlife Department should take concerted steps to curb illegal animal trade. They said punishment for violators should be increased and an awareness campaign should be launched to discourage people from hunting endangered animals.
The board appreciated the initiatives taken by the Houbara Foundation International to set up a deer and houbara breeding centre at the Lal Suharna National Park.
They urged the government to implement Ramsar Advisory Commission’s recommendations to make Patisar Lake functional as part of the floodplain management plan strategy.
They discussed dangers to animal habitats and expressed the need to conserve it.
WWF-Pakistan president Ahmer Bilal Soofi said natural habitats for wildlife were decreasing.
“Deforestation, hunting and illegal trade have greatly impacted wildlife in the country. There needs to be greater oversight for animal conservation. A comprehensive strategy should be developed to prevent animal loss and improve conservation status of important species, including those which are vulnerable to pollution, illegal trade, habitat loss and climate change impacts,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 19th, 2015.