Published On: Tue, Feb 23rd, 2016

WWF-Pakistan to combat illegal wildlife trade in Pakistan

Participants during group photo in workshop_WWF-Pakistan

Karachi February 23: WWF-Pakistan initiated a four-day consultative and capacity building workshop to develop a strategy to combat illegal wildlife trade in Pakistan. The inauguration ceremony was held at the Regent Plaza Hotel, Karachi. This workshop is part of the project Combating Illegal Wildlife Trade by Establishing a National Monitoring Network that Benefits Local Communities and Environment, supported by USAID through its Small Grants and Ambassador’s Fund Program. This event is the last one of the three such events conducted in different cities to seek recommendations from the relevant stakeholders to develop a national level strategy to combat wildlife crimes in the country.

Rab Nawaz, Senior Director-Biodiversity, WWF-Pakistan, in the welcome address highlighted that the illegal wildlife trade has been recognised as the 3rd most lucrative illegal trade falling closely behind drugs, counterfeiting and human trafficking and generates an estimated 19 billion USD annually. He also shared outcomes of an undercover market study of WWF conducted as part of the Project supported by the USAID through its Small Grants Ambassador Fund Program in 26 cities of Pakistan, in which all surveyed markets were discovered to be dealing with the illegal trade of wildlife. He also mentioned that the assessment of 102 web portals and social network platform Facebook groups and individual pages also revealed that there is an online wildlife market exist in Pakistan. He also shed light on various aspects of the project funded by USAID through its Small Grants and Ambassador’s Fund Program and informed participants that WWF plans to bring all relevant stakeholders on-board to formulate a national level action plan to control illegal wildlife trade in the country.

Speaking on the occasion, Ghulam Ahmad, Director General, Directorate of Research and Training (Customs) highlighted that such events also bring an excellent learning opportunity to the departments such as Pakistan Customs which are responsible to control illegal trade at our borders and develop synergies with other institutions working for the same cause. He also acknowledged that enhanced capacity of Pakistan Customs officials and other departments on various aspects of illegal wildlife trade would be an important step to ensure improved surveillance over wildlife traffickers. Umeed Khalid, Conservator Wildlife, Ministry of Climate Change, gave an overview to the CITES regulation, its implementation at the national scale and also highlighted different aspects of the Pakistan Trade Control Act of Wild Flora and Fauna 2012. He also pointed out that wildlife traffickers have been adopting new strategies to transport wildlife illegally, thus highlighting the need for law enforcement agencies to adopt new technologies to tackle this challenge. Given the massive scale of wildlife crimes, the urged strengthening the regional level efforts and collaborations to ensure to effectively control the illegal trade from the source countries as well as the major destination countries.

Saeed Akhtar Baloch, Chief Conservator, Sindh Wildlife Department in his remarks emphasised that apart from controlling the illegal wildlife trade being a crime, we also carry the moral responsibility of saving the native wildlife which is our natural heritage. He also shared a few success stories of illegal wildlife consignment seizure including the freshwater turtle repatriation from China. Muhammad Moazzam Khan, Technical Adviser Marine Fisheries, WWF-Pakistan while sharing the scale of illegal fishing practices pointed out a number loopholes in the existing laws and practices which further promotes fisheries crimes. He also mentioned that the three shark species of Pakistan has been included into CITES, despite the trade of their fins is going on.

The first two-days of this event will include a consultative session, focusing on developing an action plan to combat illegal wildlife trade in Pakistan. The broader objective of this consultation is to identify gaps in the existing national and provincial laws in Pakistan, which deal with wildlife crimes, working out on recommendations that can help to enhance coordination between different departments to work together against the illegal wildlife trade, welfare aspects of the confiscated and rescued wildlife from the poachers and traffickers, etc. The participants of the workshop would develop these recommendations in groups during brainstorming sessions. Experts from Sindh and Balochistan Wildlife Departments, Ministry of Climate Change, Pakistan Customs, Sindh Judicial Academy and WWF-Pakistan will share the national and provincial efforts being made to combat illegal wildlife trade during this event.

The two-day consultative workshop will be followed by training sessions aimed to enhance the capacity of field staff of the Wildlife departments, Pakistan Customs, Civil Aviation Authority, other law enforcement bodies to equip them with the basic skills to effectively tackle wildlife trade related crimes.

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