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Tackling unlawful wildlife trade top priority of present government: Moeen Wattoo

Islamabad, August 24, 2016 (PPI-OT):Pakistan Muslim League (N) Parliamentarian, Muhammad said that present government is committed to stamp out with iron hand the illegal wildlife trade in the country and urged the relevant stakeholders to join the government’s such efforts.

“Protecting wildlife from all sorts of threats is a top priority of the government, particularly the problem of the illicit wildlife trade, which has shown an unprecedented spike,” he informed the participants of the national consultative policy workshop on ‘Tackling Illegal Wildlife Trade in Pakistan Through a National Monitoring Network’.

Mr. Watto observed that the wildlife trade was the most pressing threat to animals in many parts of the world including Pakistan. Around the globe, wildlife was being bought and sold on an increasingly colossal scale as pets, meat, food, medicine, furs, feathers, skins and trophies.

He remarked that 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.

“Because, the wildlife species worth billions of dollars continue to be unlawfully trafficked to different countries from Pakistan too because of weak implementation of relevant laws, lack of technology and lack of capacity of the relevant government departments including security agencies,” he argued.

Talking about the nefarious impact of the wildlife trade, he told participants that the illegal wildlife trade had disturbed the country’s biological balance by overturning decades of conservation gains made by the country. Today a number of wildlife species have reached near extinction while many others are on endangered due to this soring problem unlawful wildlife trafficking.

Talking about the Prime Minister’s Green Pakistan Programme (GPP), Muhammad Moeen Watto apprised the participants that besides increasing tree cover in the country, the initiative (GPP) also aimed to protect wildlife species and strengthen institutional capacity of the government departments to fight illegal wildlife trafficking through inter-provincial cooperation and coordination.

Organised by the Climate Change Ministry in collaboration with the Wildlife Fund for Nature – Pakistan (WWF) in financial support of USAID, the day-long event aimed to review key recommendations of the draft National Plan of Action (NPoA) to Combat Illegal Wildlife Trade in Pakistan, seek and deliberate over suggestions of the 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 workshop was part of the consultative and training series conducted as part of the project Combating Illegal Wildlife Trade by establishing a National Monitoring Network that benefits local communities and environment supported by the USAID through its Small Grants and Ambassador Fund Program to formulate a strategy applicable on the national level against illegal wildlife trade and capacity building of law-enforcement agencies to curb wildlife crimes in Pakistan.

Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Climate Change, Syed Rizwan Mehboob, stressed upon need to dismantle the supply chain of illegal wildlife trade in Pakistan.

He also suggested the policy makers to mull over ways to tackle key causes of the wildlife trade, particularly poverty and joblessness and offer incentivs to local communities for supporting government’s efforts in addressing the menace of illegal wildlife hunting and trade

“Awareness-raising among relevant stakeholders, capacity building of the law-enforcement agencies, custom officials and convincing them of the severity and fallouts of the illegal wildlife trade is critical to efforts aimed at weeding out the wildlife trade.

The Climate Change Ministry’s Inspector General of Forests, Syed Mahmood Nasir, in his inaugural address said that Illegal wildlife trade was recognised as the second biggest threat to wildlife after habitat loss.

The illegal trade was estimated to generate 23 billion dollars annually globally, Syed Mahmood Nasir said while quoting from reports of UN agencies involved in checking the illegal wildlife trade.

He highlighted, “The wildlife trafficking also undermines state authority, impacting national and global security and socioeconomic development. Therefore, having realized the gravity of the issue governments across the world are making an effort to tackle this menace once and for all. And Pakistan is no exception.”

He hoped that the draft National Plan of Action (NPOA) for tackling illegal wildlife trade could serve as a coping strategy for Pakistan to deal with key challenges to curb wildlife crimes and also facilitate all stakeholders for an integrated and collective effort to crack down on wildlife traffickers across the county.

WWF – Pakistan’s, Director General, Hammad Naqi Khan, termed NPOA an excellent opportunity to further strengthen the knowledge and skills of law-enforcement agencies and to develop partnerships amongst them to effectively curb wildlife crimes.

Acknowledging that government alone cannot cope with the aggravating menace of the wildlife trade in the country, he urged the non-governmental organisations to join government’s efforts to save the wildlife from illicit trafficking and play their part to build up capacity of the custom officials and law-enforcing agencies to effectively and timely foil wildlife trafficking bids.

Earlier, Humaira Ayesha of the WWF – P gave a detailed presentation on key components of the draft NPoA and speled out that the draft NPoA include recommendations to improve and strengthen existing legislation dealing with wildlife trafficking in Pakistan and reviewing penalties for wildlife crimes.

For more information, contact:
Muhammad Saleem
Deputy Director
Media and Communication
Ministry of Climate Change
Government of Pakistan
LG and RD Complex, G-5/2, ISLAMABAD
Ph: 051-9245565
E-mail: moccpakistan@hotmail.com
Web: http://www.mocc.gov.pk/

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