In a surprising turn of events, Pakistan has reported a slow recovery of wildlife species, which have been endangered for the past decade. This is a positive development as wildlife is crucial for maintaining balance and stability in the ecosystem.
Pakistan is home to a diverse range of species including Indus River dolphins, Sindh Ibex (wild goat), snow leopards, and more.
It has been an uphill task for the government and wildlife groups to sustain the wildlife because increased human activity and climate change have brought new adversaries.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has cited several reasons for the mass extinction of species including rapid deforestation, alteration of natural habitats, and water dispersion. Water bodies have shrunken because of increased pollution, which has reduced space for migratory birds and harmed aquatic species.
Besides facilitating the ecosystem and supporting the food chain, wildlife contributes to agriculture and farming as birds feed on pests. It can play a pivotal role in the growth of the economy by attracting tourism and promoting other local industries. Therefore, the signs of recovery must not be taken as a signal to discontinue efforts for the upkeep of wildlife. Instead, these efforts must be intensified and speeded up.
At present, the forest cover in Sindh has reduced to less than 2%, which is a glaring reminder to consider afforestation in earnest. Activities such as illegal logging, irrigation, dumping of industrial waste into water bodies, commercialisation and infrastructure development in forest areas need to be halted.
A country-wide campaign to inform people of the need to protect wildlife should be initiated to discourage people from hunting species and prevent them from damaging natural habitats for wildlife.
Pakistan is already at the forefront of climate change; and with mass wildlife extinction, the country may face irreversible damage. Taking Punjab’s Potohar range as an example where locals protect the Urial goat, the government and wildlife groups should continue working with local communities to raise the population of nearly extinct species.