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World Wildlife Conservation Day celebrated at Pakistan Museum of Natural History

Islamabad, March 03, 2014 (PPI-OT): World Wildlife Conservation Day was celebrated at Pakistan Museum of Natural History on Monday. Prof. Dr. Qasim Jan, ex-Vice Chancellor Qauid-e-Azam University and Advisor COMSTECH, was the Chief Guest on this occasion. The event was jointly organized by Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST), Pakistan Science Foundation (PSF), Pakistan Museum of Natural History (PMNH), US Embassy Islamabad and Snow Leopard Foundation (SLF).

Mr. Peter Brennan, Minister Counselor for Public Affairs, United States Embassy, Syed Mahmood Nasir, IG Forests, Mr. Muhammad Akhter Javed Director General, PMNH, Dr. Muhammad Ali Nawaz, Director, SLF, Mr. Abdul Majeed, English Programme Manager, US Embassy and Dr. Muhammad Rafique, Director, Zoological Sciences Division, PMNH were also present on this occasion.

Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Guest appreciated the efforts of the organizers who gathered together a number of audiences from diverse fields and institutions for a common cause leading to conservation of our ever threatening wildlife and natural resources.

Pakistan is located in the transition zone between many of World’s zoogeographical regions and therefore has specific affinities of our wildlife species with all these regions, he said, adding, the country possesses every possible habitat from sea to highest peaks culminating at K2, the second highest peak in the world.

It has long coastal areas, deserts, network of rivers, canals, lakes, plains, variety of forests, mountains, glaciers, pasture lands and highest peaks in the world providing numerous habitats and ecological systems for faunal and floral species. It has millions of species of animals and plants many of them being endemic to Pakistan and not found anywhere in the world, he added.

Dr. Qasim Jan said due to anthropogenic activities, wildlife populations have declined dramatically in Pakistan for the last three to four decades as natural habitats are continuously being fragmented and degraded. It is feared that Pakistan is experiencing the worlds’ second highest rate of deforestation and the country is losing its rangelands, forests, freshwaters and marine ecosystems at an alarming rate, he maintained.

It is also facing the menace of climate change, uncontrolled emission of greenhouse gases, pollution, increase in human population, urbanization, unsustainable agricultural practices, encroachments, hunting, poaching, introduction of exotic species and weak implementation of wildlife rules and regulations.

As a result of all these malpractices, we are facing a decline in numerous native species of plants and animals. A number of them are already extinct and many are listed as threatened in Pakistan, the Chief Guest said.

The changes happening in land and sea not only impact other species, they are impacting our own lives. We rely on these species and ecosystems for our own livelihoods and wellbeing. Our own population has reached seven billion people. Seven billion people who rely on food, water and energy for their daily lives, and a legitimate aspiration of better livelihoods for them and their children.

It is also fact that more than 50% of human population live in cities. We are an increasingly urban species, and this presents new challenges and opportunities. Increasingly, large cities rely on other parts of the world to provide the food, water and energy used by millions of people. Big cities of the world are having an impact on species and ecosystems across the planet.

He said we have many challenges to face and many questions to ask to ourselves regarding emerging environmental issues. We have to think as how will we increase food production by 50% over the next 50 years? How can we reduce the emissions of CO2 without hampering industry and economic growth? How can we reduce the impact of invasive species that are moving around in an increasingly globalized world?

How can we create effective governance mechanisms and greater awareness about the link between people and nature? How can we leverage new technologies to improve the exchange of information for conservation? How can we protect the species and ecosystems to make sure they are around for future generations? These are the questions and challenges that we need to address while we get together in these kinds of functions, he added.

Mr. Muhammad Akhter Javed Director General, PMNH, read message of PSF Chairman Prof. Dr. Khalil Ahmed Ibupoto. Dr Ibupoto in his message said “Wildlife maintains ecological balance and the organisms have their unique positions in food chains, food webs which keep ecological balance. It contributes to the maintenance of material cycles such as carbon and nitrogen cycles.

All the improvement and progress in agriculture, animal husbandry, fisheries and in all the breeding programs is due to utilization of genes obtained from wildlife and preserved as gene bank. Wildlife provides a number of useful products like food, medicine, honey, wax, resin, etc. The colorful birds, insects, beautiful flowers, and trees make environment beautiful. Nature watch and excursions to natural forests and sanctuaries are all due to wildlife.

In spite of uncountable services provided by wildlife to mankind, surprisingly it is the man itself who is responsible for destroying wildlife and its natural habitats. Trees have been felled causing deforestation leading to pollution of atmospheric gases and soil erosion.

Hunting for fun or collecting skin, tusks, horns for sale has resulted in extinction of many species like the tigers, elephants, cheetah and some variety of birds. Excessive whaling is leading to the extinction of the largest creatures on the earth.

Industrial wastes dumped in rivers and other water bodies have killed many varieties of fishes, oil spills in the oceans have destroyed marine flora and fauna. Poisonous gases from industries and vehicles have adversely affected wildlife. Global warming has led to the melting of polar ice drowning the polar bears and killing the penguins and destroying the coral reefs.

The world’s wildlife has declined by nearly a third over the past 40 years. Almost 90 percent of all large fishes have disappeared from the world’s oceans in the past half century. Lion populations have fallen by almost 90% in the past 20 years, leaving the animal close to extinction. There are now only 23,000 left, compared to an estimated 200,000 two decades ago. Almost a quarter of the world’s mammals face extinction within 30 years.

In this state of affairs, it is duty of all of us to play our role for the conservation of our wildlife and our natural resources. The Wildlife Conservation Day is celebrated each year worldwide to put together our joint efforts for the common cause of protection of wildlife. I hope this event will be helpful for raising awareness among the masses and sensitize the students, teachers, researchers, media, civil society, wildlife conservationists, park managers and scientists to play their role for conservation and sustainable use of our natural resources.”

Mr. Peter Brennan, Minister Counselor for Public Affairs, United States Embassy, talked on animal trafficking and US efforts to control it. He said future of your country depends on future of your animals and plants. He also threw light on English Access program in Pakistan which has 4,500 students spread across 19 sites in almost every province of Pakistan.

The other speakers also threw light on importance of wildlife conservation and through presentations highlighted national animal, plant, flower, amphibian and reptile and fish etc. They also spoke on endangered and critically endangered species of Pakistan.

The winners of a poster competition titled “Why conserving wildlife in my community is important” were also awarded on this occasion. The winner students through presentations spoke on the concepts of their posters. A large number of students and general public visited the poster exhibition organized at PMNH.

For more information, contact:
Syeda Rehana Batool
Sr. Science Promotion Officer
Pakistan Science Foundation
1-Constitution Avenue,
Sector G-5/2, Islamabad
Tel: + 92 51 9202469-70
Fax: + 92 51 9202468

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