WWF-Pakistan and Pakistan Customs to curb illegal wildlife trade in Pakistan together using innovative technology
WWF-Pakistan and Pakistan Customs have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Friday to work together through innovative means to curb illegal wildlife trade in Pakistan.
Both institutions will also launch joint awareness campaigns to raise awareness on the wildlife trade.
The collaboration will contribute towards enhancing capacities of Pakistan Customs and other concerned agencies to acquaint them about the key aspects of illegal wildlife trade in order to enhance vigilance against wildlife trafficking.
Speaking on the occasion, Syed Asad Raza Rizvi, Chief (International Customs), Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR) informed that the illegal trade in wildlife is a new area of concern for all Customs Administrations globally.
Increasing, trading volumes along with insufficient specialized training and equipment for enforcement agencies and lack of public awareness had been instrumental in the growth of this phenomenon as part of transnational organized crime.
He termed it as “the new frontier” for Customs Administrations. Mr. Rizvi further informed that Pakistan Customs has always been at the forefront of apprehending wildlife traffickers whether this related to the smuggling of freshwater turtles, falcons or pangolin scales etc. at national entry and exit points.
He termed the collaboration with WWF-Pakistan an important milestone towards further strengthening existing efforts and enhancing vigilance against wildlife
traffickers, something that is critical for combating illegal wildlife trade in the country.
Hammad Naqi Khan, Director General, WWF-Pakistan said that illegal wildlife trade is globally recognized as the second largest threat to wildlife after habitat destruction. According to him the partnership with Pakistan Customs, FBR will provide an excellent opportunity to raise awareness about the illegal wildlife trade and other environmental issues.
“Our previous work has helped unravel the scale of illegal wildlife trade across the country and species which are facing extinction as an outcome to it. We rely on the support of partners such as Pakistan Customs to highlight and take action against this organized crime,” he said.
This partnership is also well-aligned with the objectives of the National Plan of Action developed by WWF-Pakistan in collaboration with the Ministry of Climate Change and the involvement of relevant stakeholders. The Action Plan provides a road-map to combat illegal wildlife trade in Pakistan. WWF-Pakistan has a long history of working and addressing the issue of illegal wildlife trade.
For the first time Pakistan the organization will initiate the first Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART), a technology-based system to protect wildlife from poaching and illegal trade in the country.
The Chief Guest on the occasion, Ms Zeba Hai Azhar, Chief Collector (Central Region), Lahore, appreciated the signing of the MoU between Pakistan Customs, FBR and WWF-Pakistan and expressed hope that it will be the start of a new chapter of cooperation between the two organizations. She observed further that since Pakistan.
Customs is a frontline agency in this regard, enhanced capacity building of its officers will go a long way towards improving its present capabilities in prevention of illegal wildlife trade.