The wildlife protected areas has increased to 15pc of the total land of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa after establishment of three new national parks by the Government in the province.
Prior to PTI Government, the wildlife protected areas in KP was only 10.22 percent, which is now enhnched to 15 percent following completion of three new national parks at Nazimpur in Nowshera, Kamal Band and Malakandi Kaghan in Manshera district.
Dr Mohsin Farooq, Chief Conservator of Wildlife while confirming increase of wildlife protected areas told APP that efforts were being made to enhance it by 20 percent within few years doable as the Wildlife Act has been extended to merged tribal districts.
As result of the Government conservation programs and pro-wildlife policies, the number of total national parks in KP has increased to nine including Ayubia National Park, Broghil National Park, Chitral Gol National Park, Saiful Malook National Park, Lulusar Dudipat National Park, Sheikh Badin National Park, Nazimpur Nowshera, Kamal Band and Malakandi Kaghan in Manshera.
Morover, new eight wildlife parks, nine pheasantries and 15 breeding enclosures were setup in KP. Two new community managed game reserves and cheer pheasants center rehabilitated in Manshera.
Dr Mohsin Farooq said these wildlife parks would immensely help promote wildlife conservation programs besides bolstering ecotourism.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is a unique province of Pakistan where the Government’s conservation projects have helped increase population of endangered wildlife species including the national animal Markhor.
Markhor, which was declared an endangered specie in the past, has witnessed a substantial increase in recent years especially in Chitral and Kohistan owing to Trophy Hunting Program (THP) started by KP Wildlife Department.
A survey conducted in Chitral has revealed that Markhor population has increased to over 5,000 animals compared to 1500-2,000 animals in 2001 courtesy to the financial incentives being provided to the local communities of Chitral and Kohistan under THP.
Wildlife Department has recently distributed Rs74 million among 26 communities of Chitral and Kohistan under THP on account of community share of Markhor and Ibex for year 2021-22.
He said a conservation has been started for endangered Barking Deer in Haripur district.
Barking Deer conservation was underway at the site of a special scientific interest project exclusively developed for conservation and breeding of endangered species at Makhniyal in Haripur.
Three other sites of scientific interest projects were developed at Malka Mahaband in Buner, Mangal Thana and Bharkalay Baish Banar in Swat where rare wildlife and plants besides their habitats were being preserved.
Dr Mohsin said a three years “Integrated Development Forestry Project (IDFP) worth Rs1444 million has been launched by the Government under Accelerated Implementation Program (AIP 2020-21) for protection, breeding and up-keeping of an endangered wildlife in merged areas.
He said the project was aimed to utilize the unproductive land of South Waziristan, North Waziristan, Kurram, Bajaur, Khyber, Orakzai and Mohmand tribal districts for establishment of wildlife parks, game reserves and breeding centres.
Under the project, Rs 123.775 million would be spent on establishment of protected areas for wildlife conservation and development works and Rs50.135 million for purchase of machinery and equipment for wildlife projects in merged areas.
Similarly, Rs 43 million would be utalized on development, education and wildlife awareness programs while Rs71.050 million allocated for pay and allowances for the newly recruiting officers and staff of wildlife in merged areas.
The Wildlife Chief said that 653 new posts for wildlife department were approved by the Government to strengthen conservation, breeding and protection programs in tribal districts.
He said sports hunting was regulated to stabilize partridges’ population in selected game reserves and permit fee enhanced besides revenue of Markhor THP.
The billion trees afforstration project underwhich 1.28billion saplings in its first phase 2014-17 and 505 million in 2018-Dec 31, 2021 planted under 10BTAP have helped increase frequency of migratory birds including houbara bustard, Russian doves, ducks and cranes from Central Asian Republics to Pakistan, said Muhammad Ibrahim Khan, Deputy Project Director 10 billion trees afforstration project while talking to APP.
As a result of whopping plantation, he said about 10 new jungles including Ghari Chandan and Azakhels forests near Peshawar with 3.2 million plants had created breeding grounds for falcons, bears, houbara, cranes, bears, common leopard, dove, ducks, monkeys, foxes, wolves, jackals, pigeons, pheasants monal, koklas, kaleej, tragopan, black & grey partridges and national bird Chakor to thrive.
Besides wildlife, he said BTAP has made positive impact on apiculture and horticulture business due to increase of bees flora, ornamental and fruits plants.
Dr Mohsin Farooq said that a project was approved for conservation of biodiversity and promotion of eco-tourism through livelihood improvement at Sheikh Badin National Park spread on about 15,540 hectares at junction of Dera Ismail Khan and Lakki Marwat districts.
He said five new conservencies at Kalam, Minkyal in Swat, Terich Targo in Chitral, Kumrat in Dir Upper, and Dir Kohistan have been established.
Similarily, rules for effective management of national parks, community managed game reserves, combating illegal hunting and extension of wildlife act to merged tribal districts were framed. Likewise, rules for national parks and community managed game reserves were approved.
The wildlife chief said compensation policy for humans-wildlife conflict was approved and several compensation cases of the victims families were processed through deputy commissioners for payment.