Islamabad Wildlife Board Announces Fees for Margalla Events

The Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) amid a paucity of funds has decided to generate revenue by charging fees to individuals and institutions for holding activities in the Margalla Hills National Park protected area. IWMB Chairperson Rina Saeed Khan made the announcement at the launching ceremony of the new and updated website of the Board in Nov 2023. She said many educational institutions, civil society and NGOs and private and corporate entities used to hold hiking and trekking tours in the national park and many other awareness activities. However, previously all those activities were for free but now all and sundry would have to fill out a one-page form before seeking permission, whereas the Board would allow one-day permission.

She said that the Board was cognisant of the fact that this move would be resisted by public circles but the Board could not allow free visits.

She said the previous website of the Board was outdated and not up to the mark to provide any information or an outlook of the wildlife board that had gone through several transformative phases over the years. The updated website was launched and the web developer. It comprised of application forms for guided tours and one-day activities, a special tab for donations, and other associated non-profit organizations assisting the Board in managing the national park on a volunteer basis.

Before the web launch, two documentaries were shown. One made by the Dawood Foundation titled, “Margalla Urban Wilderness: Margalla Hills National Park” that was eight years old and shed light on the National Park’s creation, biodiversity, risks and challenges faced by it and its potential in replenishing nature.

The stone crushers depicted in the documentary were shut down under the Supreme Court orders. However, littering is a huge problem in the national park further marred by plastic pollution that was massive.

Due to a shortage of funds the Board apart from its limited staff was relying more on its dedicated volunteers who regularly pick up trash on Sundays.

Another documentary on Leopard Preserve Zone at Trail-6 titled “Margalla Hills Leopard Kingdom” was presented. The Board was offering guided tours to people visiting Trail-6 that are paid with the goal of preserving nature. “Mohibullah, an IWMB volunteer has data of leopards, and another volunteer Anoushe, a wildlife photographer was doing photography of leopards which was done on night in a guarded chamber that she could not leave for the whole night,” she said.

The Board had successfully controlled hunting and poaching, whereas those incidents were reported in the Quaid-e-Azam University vicinity. A CDA official criticized the levy of this fee on events and said that the Board was a joke with hardly any members. He said that the chairperson was most of the time out of country; and the other members seldom if ever attend any meetings.

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