Pakistan’s 80% pangolin population declined due to poaching: Experts

WWF-Pakistan Team
ISLAMABAD, Aug 31 (APP):The experts on Wednesday briefed the media persons that almost 80% population of the critically endangered Pangolin species had declined in the country due to excessive poaching, hunting and illicit trafficking that should be protected and owned by the community as its most precious asset.
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Pakistan) organised a project briefing on “Pangolins” and wildlife of Pakistan and welcomed suggestions from the journalists for better initiative to protect the endangered species of wildlife in the country.
Associate Professor, PMAS Arid Agriculture University Department of Zoology, Wildlife & Fisheries, Dr Tariq Mahmood while opening the discussion informed the participants that the University had established the country’s first ever Wildlife department to initiate dedicated study on animal species.
He added that in 2009 the Department focussed on Pangolin that was oblivious in the research circles of the academia at that time. However, he said the breaking point in the study came in 2012 during the research work underway in Chakwal when dead maimed and skinned corpses of numerous Pangolin were found in an abandoned tunnel that revealed the illicit trade and poaching of the critically endangered anteater.
Dr Mahmood mentioned hat the information was then shared with the DG Wildlife Department Punjab and provincial authorities of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and other federating units for further action.
He informed that the Department had conducted or engaged in research initiatives on Pangolin in Punjab, KP and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK)’s Mirpur district to explore the population status of the most trafficked wild mammal.
Dr Mahmood said the situation of Pangolin was unexplored in Sindh and Balochistan that needed to be probed for further clarification of the population status of the animal.
Chipping in the discussion, Conservationist, KP WWF-Pakistan Muhammad Waseem said Pangolin’s poaching was basically for illegal wildlife trade intended to provide the meat of the anteater as a delicacy and its scales for traditional medicines and a resistant material for bullet proof vests.
He said there were some eight species of pangolin spread across Asia and Africa and all of them were endangered due to their indiscriminate poaching and hunting.
The WWF-Pakistan started Saving the Pangolins of Pakistan Project in 2016 and engaged the Customs Department and UNODC to contain its illegal trafficking, he added.
The WWF-Pakistan identified Pangolin Protection Zones in different parts of the country and some six of such sites were enabled with a safe environment and empowered and trained wildlife staff and watchers to ensure their protection, he added.
He regretted that their were illogical myths associated to the innocent anteater as the human’s corpse eater which was totally wrong and contribute much to its declining population.
He demanded that the media, society and indigenous population of the Pangolin habitats would have to own this species of mammals as their identity and most important component of its nature and environment.
The journalists also presented suggestions that were well noted and welcomed by the Fund.
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