IWMB chair laments irresponsible tourist behaviour damaging ecology of Margallas

Chairperson Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) Rina Saeed Khan on Sunday said the irresponsible attitude and unwanted littering by tourists visiting the nature and wildlife rich Margalla Hills National Park was posing serious risk to its thriving ecology.
The Margalla Hills National Park (MHNP) has emerged as a favourable habitat for plants, birds and wildlife species that reclaimed themselves during the prolonged lockdowns of the Covid-19 pandemic as less human activities helped in reviving nature, the Chairperson IWMB told APP in an exclusive talk on the growing littering issue in the national park.

Rina said there have been repeated public awareness campaigns and symposiums to educate the masses visiting national park that they were treading on the ecosystem of wildlife species that demands care and protection.

However, its highly regrettable that the so-called educated gentry of the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad traveling on their sports use vehicles (SUVs) did not bother to take interest in protecting the nature and managing their waste, she added.

“They [tourists] dump single-use plastic bags, wrappers, packaging and bottles that end up non-degraded in the environment. The wild species especially monkeys, jackals, squirrels, foxes or any other consume it and die due to toxic impact of the plastic material on their health,” the chairperson said.

She informed that the IWMB had strict check and monitoring on all of its trails that have become popular among masses for hiking, meditation, and recreation due to its scenic beauty and peaceful ambience.

The littering issue has seen a drastic decline due to strict checking and change public behaviour whereas the areas like selfie points and other picnic sites that are less accessible for the IWMB staff were polluted by the masses, she said.

“The local population residing near trails have started discouraging littering in the national park due to effective sensitisation. But, the issue is lurking on the peripheral areas of the National Park,” she noted.

The IWMB has recently recruited 35 new staff including assistant directors, directors, range guards and others that would ensure strict enforcement in the National Park, however they lack strong regulatory powers as the Islamabad Wildlife Management Act was pending in the federal cabinet for its approval, she added.

“The Act will enshrine more regulatory powers to the Board to fine and lodge strict legal action against violators of environmental laws in the national park,” she said while hoping to get the draft act approved soon by the cabinet.

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