Red Data Survey of Endangered Species Continues with 80% Reduced Funds

ISLAMABAD, Nov 01 (APP): The first National Red Data Book survey, a detailed data of endangered species of mammals facing threat of extinction, is in full swing amid limited financial allocations due to COVID19 to assess the population of declining species and outcome of its conservation initiatives across the country.

The Ministry of Climate Change has maintained the survey of mammals under Ten Billion Tree Tsunami project (phase-I) despite a major cut in PSDP released funds of 80 percent for the project due to the COVID19 pandemic. Project Director TBTT Joint Secretary MoCC Suleman Khan Warraich told APP that there is no such credible data available related to mammals and other native wildlife species for informed decision making.

“All the policies formed earlier have been developed superfluously based on estimated data of mammals. Due to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s keen interest in biodiversity and ecosystem conservation the ministry has taken an initiative to develop first ever National Red Data Book on Mammals of Pakistan based on population estimates, under the umbrella of Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Programme, Phase-I.”

He added that the Red data book is the publication of risk assessment of the species in every country across the globe. “It provides complete information of rare and endangered species and about their habitats. Pakistan, for the first time is going to make a comprehensive National Red Data Book of mammals, which will provide population status of species at a national level. It will assist to devise monitoring and conservation strategies for threatened species at regional level.”

Warraich said a 45-member team comprising of MoCC, Zoological Survey of Pakistan, Punjab Wildlife and Parks Department, local universities’ interns, media interns and international organisations namely IUCN and WWF was formed to conduct a survey of Punjab Urial (Ovis vignei punjabensis). He added that prior governments had neglected such surveys which hampered the way of informed decision making and therefore, this initiative would help in assessing the outcome of earlier policies particularly that of trophy hunting aimed at reviving the dwindling number of endangered species.

The Survey, he said, started from October 10 and had concluded at October 25 where the teams returned consequently to tabulate the data. The survey was being carried in the five districts of Punjab including Jhelum, Chakwal, Attock, Mianwali and Khushab. The TBTT project director noted that transparency and international standardisation was ensured through double observer method to estimate the population of Punjab Urial.

“It will also help to suggest new protected areas or to increase the areas of existing protected areas for the conservation of Punjab Urial.”

He said that under the Red Data Book, survey of Markhor, Ibex and Blue Sheep in Gilgit Baltistan, Ibex and Blanford Urial in Sindh, Suleman Markhor, Afghan Urial and Ibex in Balochistan and Kashmiri Markhor, Grey Goral in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would be carried out.

“The survey will be kicked off during rutting as the one prevailing in Punjab for Urial.” Besides, reduced financial allocations due to COVID19 pandemic, the Ministry had managed to sustain the momentum of TBTT and National Red Data Book survey and had also acquired vehicles needed by the staff to hold the survey.

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