With enlarging forest cover by billions trees afforstration project of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, arrival’s frequency of migratory birds has increased manifolds in Pakistan besides providing a natural habitat to rare wildlife species.
“The arrival of Houbara Bustard, a precious migratory bird, has increased in Pakistan from Central Asian Republics (CARs) including Mongolia, Siberia due to availability of large variety of flora plants, insects and weeds in Khyber Pakthunkhwa,’ Syed Ishtaiq Urmar, Provincial Minister for Environment, Forests and Wildlife Department told APP here on Thursday.
Billion trees afforstration project (BTAP), a flagship project of PTI Govt has immensely helped in increasing of KP’s forest covered area from 20.3pc in 2013 to record 26.6pc in 2017, broadening habitats for wildlife conservation and increasing ratio in arrival of the migratory birds in the country, he said.
“Houbara can’t stay in severe coldness and Pakistan’s climate is ideally suitable for them especially during winter season,” he said, adding all arid areas in Pakistan including DI Khan, DG Khan, Rahimyar Khan are Houbara’s winter habitats where sufficient flora, insects and weeds are now available for its breading.
Houbara is very sensitive and it does not use the route again if they sense any danger on their way during the first journey. In case Houbra’s looses its mate, the endangered specie takes three to five years to find a new one.
The population travels in groups having a chieftain and once they looses their chieftain, the deputy guides the group to reach its destination.
Ishtiq Urmar said Govt has adopted a comprehensive strategy to conserve and protect wildlife and migratory birds and under this plan five more national parks are being established at Kumrat, Anso Lake, Satara Nand in Manshera and Palas Kohistan. Six national parks at Saiful Mulk Manshera, Nathia Gali, Ayubia, Lalusir and Chitral Gol were established with main focus on wildlife conservation.
He said Govt has adopted zero tolerance against illegal hunting, poaching and trapping of wildlife animals and migratory birds including the endangered Asian Houbara and falcons.
“I have set free seven falcons at Pakistan Forests Institute after it were recovered from an alleged smuggler at Bacha Khan International Airport on Wednesday last besides imposition of Rs3lakh fine,” he maintained.
He said a ban has been imposed on illegal hunting of wildlife animals and strict would be taken against elements involved in its illegal hunting and trade.
The Minister said new forest at Ghari Chandan at Peshawar has been raised that would help in protection and conservation of wildlife and migratory birds.
He said over 600,000 hectares of forests had been restored in KP during last five years.
The Minister said Peshawar Zoo is being strengthened and all precious animals like Zebra, Zarafa, tigers and loins were brought to the facility, saying efforts are afoot to bring elephants from a foreign country to the zoo.
He offered technical expertise to provinces including Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan for plantation of 10 billion saplings under ‘Plant for Pakistan’ project in next five years in the country.
The Minister said BTAP are being extended to recently merged tribal districts to achieve target of planting additional one billion saplings in Khyber Pakthunkhwa under Plant for Pakistan.
He said 40-years old curriculum of Pakistan Forests Institute at Peshawar has been updated with modern requirements and two years extensive professional education training to trainee forest officers of all provinces and AJK are being provided at PFI.
The environmental tribunal has been established at Peshawar to take up cases of environmental and population related cases, saying operation against unlawful crushing machines, marble factories and brick kilns will commence soon.