WWF-Pakistan, in collaboration with the Ministry of Climate Change, organised a consultative workshop aiming to seek recommendations from relevant stakeholders on the draft National Plan of Action (NPOA) to combat illegal wildlife trade in Pakistan.
The workshop was part of the consultative and training series conducted under the project Combating Illegal Wildlife Trade by establishing a national monitoring network that benefits local communities and environment, supported by the USAID through its small grants and Ambassador Fund Programme, to formulate a strategy applicable on the national level against illegal wildlife trade and capacity building of law enforcement agencies to curb wildlife crimes in Pakistan.
Experts present in the workshop shed light on various aspects of illegal wildlife trade. The training also familiarised participants about species that are in a high trade demand, modes in which they are traded and identification of the species. Experts also shared international regulations as well as national and provincial laws governing wildlife trade.
In the welcome address, Forests Inspector General Syed Mahmood Nasir said that illegal wildlife trade has been recognised as the second biggest threat to wildlife after habitat loss and is estimated to generate USD 23 billion annually. He further mentioned that wildlife trafficking also undermines state authority, impacting national and global security and socio-economic development. Therefore, governments across the world are making an effort to tackle this menace. This National Plan of Action, once finalised, will serve as a strategy for Pakistan to address the key challenges in curbing wildlife crimes.
Wildlife Assistant Secretary Samar Hussain Khan discussed the various aspects of illegal wildlife trade in Pakistan. He lauded the efforts of WWF-Pakistan in organising consultative workshops throughout the year and successfully developing the draft with recommendations from all relevant stakeholders.
Key components of the draft NPOA include recommendations to improve and strengthen existing legislation in Pakistan and reviewing penalties for wildlife crimes. It also takes into consideration the welfare aspects of rescued and confiscated wildlife species by establishing guidelines on how to handle them.
WWF-Pakistan Director General Hammad Naqi Khan in the concluding remarks emphasised that the NPOA is an excellent opportunity to further strengthen the knowledge and skills of law enforcement agencies and to develop partnerships amongst them to effectively curb wildlife crimes. He appreciated the active participation of senior officials and field staff of the Ministry of Climate Change, provincial wildlife departments, Pakistan Customs and the judiciary in formulating the draft NPOA.
WWF-Pakistan, along with developing the NPOA has also helped in the capacity building of more than 200 law enforcement personals covering key aspects of illegal wildlife trade. Additionally, as a result of the continuous efforts of the organisation, wildlife information desks are being set up in collaboration with Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and provincial wildlife departments to increase vigilance at important exit points of the country.