WWF-Pakistan concludes consultative workshop to combat illegal wildlife trafficking and curb wildlife crimes
ISLAMABAD – WWF-Pakistan concluded the second consultative workshop in Islamabad to develop a strategy to combat illegal wildlife trade in Pakistan.
The two-day workshop focused on developing an action plan to combat illegal wildlife trade in Pakistan. Experts from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) wildlife departments, Ministry of Climate Change, Pakistan Customs, Federal Judicial Academy, WWF-Pakistan shared the national and provincial scale efforts being made to combat illegal wildlife trade and challenges associated to tackle this issue effectively.
The workshop was part of the project Combating Illegal Wildlife Trade by Establishing a National Monitoring Network that Benefits Local Communities and Environment today, supported by USAID through its Small Grants and Ambassador’s Fund Program.
Syed Mahmood Nasir, Inspector General Forests, Ministry of Climate Change appreciated the fact that the workshop included representation of all major stakeholders that have a critical role in the battle against illegal wildlife trade, and is an important milestone to eliminate wildlife crime from the country.
He also emphasised that such an event is 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. He also pointed out that the wildlife traffickers have been seen adopting new strategies to transport wildlife illegally, thus highlighting the need for law enforcement agencies to adopt to new technologies to tackle the challenge. He quoted the recent incidence of the seizure of black spotted pond turtles at Lahore airport, in which 144 anesthetized turtles were carried wrapped in a crockery consignment.
Dr. Ejaz Ahmad, Senior Director, WWF-Pakistan, highlighted the need for government agencies to be proactive for effective enforcement of existing laws to curb illegal wildlife trade. He also shed light on various aspects of the project funded by USAID through its Small Grants and Ambassador’s Fund Program and informed participants that WWF plans to bring all relevant stakeholders on-board to formulate a national level action plan to control illegal wildlife trade in the country.
The agenda of the WWF consultation workshop focused on identifying gaps in existing laws that deal with wildlife crimes in the country, enhancement of inter-departmental coordination and confiscated wildlife welfare aspects. The recommendation of this workshop will be compiled in the form of an action plan. Findings of a market study conducted by the WWF as part of the project, which assessed the scale of illegal wildlife trade in the country, were also presented.
Notable participants included Safdar Ali Shah, Chief Conservator Wildlife KP, Abdul Razzaq, Director Wildlife and Fisheries Department AJK , Suleiman Yaqub, Deputy Director, Directorate Training and Research (Pakistan Customs), Zahoor Akter Raja, Collector Customs, Dr. Sadiq Ullah Khan, Deputy Director Pakistan Customs, Umeed Khalid, Conservator of Wildlife, Ministry of Climate Change, Sammar Hussain Khan, Assistant Secretary Wildlife, Ministry of Climate Change, senior officials of the KP and AKJ Wildlife Department, Rescue 1122, Pakistan Museum of Natural History, Zoological Survey of Pakistan, Quaid-e-Azam University, Arid Agriculture University, etc.
The two-day consultative workshop will be followed by training sessions aimed to enhance the capacity of field staff of the KP and AJK wildlife departments, Pakistan Customs, Civil Aviation Authority, other law enforcement bodies as well as, Rescue 1122 to equip them with the basic skills to effectively tackle the wildlife trade related crimes. The training will familiarise participants with the species that are in high trade demand, common form in which their trade occurs, international regulations as well as national and provincial laws governing wildlife trade such as CITES and Pakistan Wild Trade Control Act 2012, etc.