LAHORE: To mark World Animal Day, WWF-Pakistan organised a documentary screening for students, senior journalists, civil society and individual members at its head office to highlight the issues of illegal wildlife trade. The film, ‘Racing Extinction’, is a 2015 documentary that follows a group of undercover activists trying to draw attention to the role of mankind in the loss of at least half of the world’s species. This documentary takes viewers to the hidden world of extinction with heart wrenching images that are bound to change the way we see our planet and the threat our activities pose to its diversity.
World Animal Day is an international day of action for animal rights and welfare celebrated annually on October 4. It was first celebrated in 1931. According to Programmes Senior Director Rab Nawaz, WWF-Pakistan said, “On this day, lets aim to celebrate animal life in all forms and their relationship with humankind. It is important to acknowledge the ecological importance of animals, as they bring us closer to nature. There is a dire need to raise awareness about all animal issues that exist throughout the world.”
WWF-Pakistan believes that iconic species in Pakistan are heading towards extinction due to habitat degradation, poaching and illegal trade. There is no single factor that can alone stop wildlife crime in the country but a broad approach needs to be urgently adopted, which involves many tools and partners and targets the entire trafficking chain. With strong commitment from different departments and relevant organisations, traffickers can be deterred and the population of endangered species in the country can be revived. Key factors that contribute to increasing wildlife trafficking include weak coordination and cooperation among enforcement agencies, lack of political commitment and support in wildlife crime control and absence of public engagement.
According to WWF’s Living Planet Report 2016, global populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles declined by 58 per cent between 1970 and 2012. Animals the world over face potential threats to their survival due to a rapidly increasing global population, decreasing wetlands and deforestation for the construction of new infrastructure. Invasive species of animals pose potential threats to indigenous wildlife and ecosystems and illegal wildlife trade is bringing many species to the verge of extinction.
Speaking on the day, Wildlife Technical Advisor Dr Uzma Khan said: “We are part of nature, and living with love and respect for animals is the only way to ensure the survival of both mankind and wildlife. Our wildlife faces challenges of habitat loss, illegal trade, poaching and climate change. This is because the human has become the most invasive species. We have to check our own actions and act more responsibly.’