WWF-Pakistan urges for the protection of migratory birds

Posted on 08 May 2021

Karachi 8 May: ‘In the last two years, Pakistan has witnessed a rise in the population of migratory birds across its water bodies. If we continue to conserve our wetlands, ban bird hunting and raise awareness amongst locals about biodiversity conservation, Pakistan can become a safe haven for migratory birds’ This was stated by WWF-Pakistan through press release on occasion of World Migratory Birds day which is observed on 8 May 2021. From plastic pollution to habitat loss and the impacts of climate change, migratory birds are increasingly under threat from human activities and interventions. Although migratory birds face many dangers along the long routes they take, but they have multiple benefits to humans such as seed dispersal, pollination and pest control.
 
On this day, WWF-Pakistan released a video of migratory birds that take refuge at Borith Lake, situated in Gilgit- Baltistan. A picturesque and placid lake surrounded on all sides by jagged mountain peaks of the mighty Karakorams, this small saline lake has become an important biodiversity hotspot for migratory birds on their passage between Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent. As a result of a ban on hunting, Borith Lake today is a bright example of what a healthy ecosystem should look like. Taking lessons from Borith, we must continue to create similar protected areas, across Pakistan, to ensure that the unique biodiversity of this region continues to thrive in the years to come. 
 
The video developed by Nyal Mueenuddin, filmmaker at WWF-Pakistan, showcases how WWF-Pakistan’s community conservation work has made Borith Lake such an important conservation success story over the years. Migratory and resident birds regularly visit this freshwater lake and help improve the ecosystem which is home to other wild species.  
 
On this occasion, Hammad Naqi Khan, Director General, WWF-Pakistan pointed out that nature conservation, ecosystem services and the well-being of human beings are linked with the protection of migratory birds. It is our joint responsibility to protect wild species including birds, which play a crucial role maintaining this ecosystem.  He stated that migratory birds face several threats in Pakistan which include habitat loss and degradation, pollution, illegal trade, and ruthless hunting. The birds not only help control the population of insects and some fish species, but also improve habitat for other wildlife. He emphasized that relevant provincial wildlife departments should curb illegal trade and ruthless hunting of wildlife including birds. 
 
Pakistan lies at a crossroads for bird migration, with its wetlands attracting high numbers annually in the winter season. These birds arrive through the international migration route known as the Indus Flyway, from Siberia and over the Karakoram, Hindu Kush, and Suleiman Ranges along the Indus River down to the delta. They include a wide variety of ducks and waders, houbara bustard, cranes, teals, pintail, mallard, geese, spoon bills, raptors, and passerines such as warblers, pipits and buntings. Some species, including the common and Demoiselle cranes, snipe and pelican enter via the Kurram Agency of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
 
Since all migratory species are hunted in Pakistan and ducks are mercilessly killed every year, the population of some duck species, including white-eyed pochard, marbled teal and garganey, has drastically decreased. Cranes, because of their size and beauty, unique calls, and complex behaviour are hunted and trapped during their migration in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.
 
There is a strong interdependence between people and nature, and more specifically people and migratory birds. Anthropogenic activities can have negative impacts on bird migration, especially the disappearance of wetlands and degradation of bird habitats in Pakistan. WWF-Pakistan appeals to the public to help revive the country’s natural landscape and protect the bird species.
Black-necked Grebe captured at Borith Lake, Gilgit Baltistan, Pakistan
© Imra