Need for stricter regime in Pakistan (editorial)

Dawn Editorial
Monday, 08 Nov, 2010

THE federal environment ministry has informed parliament that a number of indigenous fauna — the snow leopard, markhor, the Balochistan bear, houbara bustard and the Indus river dolphin among them — are listed as endangered species by international conservation bodies.

The briefing came ostensibly with a view to emphasising the need to put in place additional conservation mechanisms and stricter vigilance and punitive measures to curb illegal hunting. Disturbingly enough, another report brought to light the gross violation of the ban imposed on hunting in Chitral district by none other than the president of a local village conservation committee.

The police reportedly recovered a number of markhor hides from the house of the violator before booking him.

Poaching is a multimillion-dollar illegal trade that goes on unabated in much of the developing world, with Africa, Asia and South America being the main originating points.

Pakistan can learn a lesson from the strict conservation regime that India has implemented to curb illegal hunting and to save the environment.

Vigilant Indian authorities have not spared even the most popular of film celebrities in recent years when it has come to enforcing environmental and wildlife laws. A Bollywood superstar was restrained from cutting down a tree located within the walls of his house; another superstar was fined and imprisoned for shooting a deer.

In Pakistan, one has yet to hear of any such meaningful enforcement of the law where it does exist. Our municipal authorities routinely fell trees in the cities and execute development projects without the required environment impact assessment; in the countryside much of the hunting of endangered species is done by those who wield power and influence.

Implementation of a stricter vigilance and punitive regime is long overdue. It is needed urgently if we are to conserve a wide variety of indigenous flora and fauna.