KARACHI: Officials of Sindh Wildlife Department (SWD) and World Wildlife Fund for Nature–WWF-Pakistan jointly released Indian pangolin (manis crassicaudata) on Monday into Khar Centre of Khirthar National Park located around 45 kilometres from Karachi.
The mammal identified as Indian pangolin created a great stir among residents when it was found near Islamia College in Jamshed town, Karachi on last Thursday. The residents, afraid of the animal, reported this to Jamshed Town police, which reached at the location and took the animal into its custody. The animal was later on handed it over to Karachi Zoo. Sindh Wildlife Department being the sole custodian of wild animals in the province received it from the Zoo authorities and with support of WWF-Pakistan released it into Khirthar National Park.
According to Rab Nawaz, Senior Director- Biodiversity, WWF-Pakistan poaching, illegal hunting and trafficking of the animal to a few countries including China and Vietnam has drastically reduced its population in Pakistan. He also shared that WWF-Pakistan is working in close coordination with provincial wildlife departments to tackle illegal wildlife trade in Pakistan and has recently initiated a USAID funded project for this purpose. He also emphasized for strict vigilance and monitoring of the wildlife smuggling in country and called for training of customs and wildlife officials for proper implementation of the wildlife laws.
Saeed Akhtar Baloch, Conservator Sindh Wildlife department shared that the department is keeping a vigil on illegal trade of endangered species including pangolins whose scales are known to have been illegally exported from Pakistan. He lauded the efforts of WWF-Pakistan in rescue and release of endangered species.
Altaf Hussain Sheikh, Manager Conservation Sindh WWF-Pakistan said that pangolin, a scaly anteater, is hunted for its scales, which are sold for illegal trade and export from Pakistan at lucrative rates. He also said that there is an urgent need for creating awareness among the general population especially students because of non-familiarity with this animal, usually the panic is created if a pangolin is found at any location. In fear people kill this innocent and harmless animal mercilessly. There had been at least four cases in past two years in which Indian pangolins were killed in different parts of Sindh by onlookers. ‘There should be strict penalty for culprits involved in illegal trade of pangolins and other endangered species in Pakistan’, he added.
Eight species of the pangolin exist in the world particularly in Asia and Africa and the only one species that is Indian pangolin is found in Pakistan. It is reported in various parts of the country including hilly and sandy areas of Sindh, Balochistan, KPK and Punjab. According to International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, all species of pangolin are endangered and require immediate conservation efforts.