WWF-Pakistan organises consultative workshop on draft National Plan of Action to combat illegal wildlife trafficking
Islamabad, WWF-Pakistan, in collaboration with the Ministry of Climate Change, organised a consultative workshop aiming to seek recommendations from relevant stakeholders on the draft National Plan of Action (NPOA), developed to combat illegal wildlife trade in Pakistan. The workshop was part of the consultative and training series conducted under 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.
Experts present in the workshop shed light on various aspects of illegal wildlife trade, its scale and the various forms in which this trade takes place. The training also familiarized participants about species that are in high trade demand, modes in which they are traded and identification of the species. Experts also shared international regulations as well as national and provincial laws governing wildlife trade such as Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and Pakistan Wild Trade Control of Wild Fauna and Flora Act, 2012 with the participants.
In the welcome address Syed Mahmood Nasir, Inspector General of Forests, Ministry of Climate Change said that illegal wildlife trade has been recognised as the second biggest threat to wildlife after habitat loss and is estimated to generate USD 23 billion annually. He further mentioned that wildlife trafficking also undermines state authority, impacting national and global security and socioeconomic development. Therefore, governments across the world are making an effort to tackle this menace. This National Plan of Action, once finalised, will serve as a strategy for Pakistan to address the key challenges in curbing wildlife crimes and facilitate all relevant stakeholders by integrating collective efforts to crack down on wildlife traffickers.
Samar Hussain Khan, Assistant Secretary Wildlife, Ministry of Climate Change discussed the various aspects of illegal wildlife trade in Pakistan, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) regulations and the Pakistan Trade Control of Wild Fauna and Flora Act 2012. He lauded the efforts of WWF-Pakistan in organising consultative workshops throughout the year and successfully developing the draft with recommendations from all relevant stakeholders including the Ministry of Climate Change, Provincial Wildlife Departments, Pakistan Customs and the judiciary.
Key components of the draft NPOA include recommendations to improve and strengthen existing legislation in Pakistan and reviewing penalties for wildlife crimes. The draft NPOA places emphasis on improving the coordination between stakeholders and enhancing capacity of law enforcement agencies and wildlife departments, both at the provincial and national level. It also takes into consideration the welfare aspects of rescued and confiscated wildlife species by establishing guidelines on how to handle them and also recommends building wildlife rehabilitation centres to minimize trafficking induced mortalities.
Hammad Naqi Khan, Director General, WWF-Pakistan in the concluding remarks emphasised that the NPOA 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 acknowledged that WWF-Pakistan, with the financial support of USAID through its Small Grants and Ambassador Fund Program, has set the ball rolling in the right direction for relevant law enforcement agencies to double their efforts in future against wildlife crimes. He appreciated the active participation of senior officials and field staff of the Ministry of Climate Change, provincial wildlife departments, Pakistan Customs and the judiciary in formulating the draft NPOA.
Experts from the provincial wildlife departments, Ministry of Climate Change, Pakistan Customs, Judicial Academy, Marine Fisheries Department and Pakistan Maritime Security Agency also shared details of efforts being made at the national and provincial level to combat illegal wildlife trade and discussed the challenges associated in effectively tackling the menace and the role of the NPOA in further compounding these efforts. Notable participants included Khalid Ayyaz Khan, Director General Punjab Wildlife and Parks Department; Umeed Khalid Conservator Wildlife, Ministry of Climate Change; Neem Dar, Deputy Director Wildlife and Fisheries Department AJ&K; Suleiman Yaqub, Deputy Director, Directorate Training and Research (Pakistan Customs); ZahoorAkter Raja, Collector Customs; Sammar Hussain Khan, Assistant Secretary Wildlife, Ministry of Climate Change; senior officials of the Punjab, KP, Gilgit Baltistan and AKJ Wildlife department; Rescue 1122; Pakistan Museum of Natural History; Zoological Survey of Pakistan; Quaid-e-Azam University and Arid Agriculture University.
WWF-Pakistan, along with developing the NPOA has also helped in the capacity building of more than 200 law enforcement personals covering key aspects of illegal wildlife trade. Additionally, as a result of the continuous efforts of the organisation, wildlife information desks are being setup in collaboration with Civil Aviation Authority and provincial wildlife departments to increase vigilance at important exit points of the country.
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