IUCN Pakistan organized a meeting to discuss conservation of Pangolins in the wake of news reports confirming Pangolins poaching and illegal trade continues unabated.
The meeting was chaired by Abdul Rahim Soomro, Secretary, Forest and Wildlife, Government of Sindh. Representatives from IUCN, Sindh Forest and Wildlife Department, Forest Department Government of Balochistan, Zoological Survey Department, WWF-Pakistan, Biodiversity experts, academics and independent consultants participated in the meeting.
In the opening remarks, Abdul Rahim Soomro, Secretary, Forest and Wildlife Department appreciated IUCN and other stakeholders for assisting the government in such issues.
He lamented that hunters have taken the charge conservation. He further said that various stakeholders “are making their sincere efforts and need to control poaching and smuggling of Pangolins in Pakistan.” He emphasized on proper training of the Customs staff and Police Forces for proper check on smuggling from the country.
In his welcome remarks, Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, IUCN Country Representative said that IUCN is striving for the conservation of Pangolins in the country. IUCN is in the process of consultation with the federal and provincial governments and the relevant stakeholders to comprehend the key challenges and to come up with concrete measures to tackle this issue.
He further said that the population of Pangolins is on decline and if proper measures are not taken in time the loss can be irreversible. He appreciated the support of the Sindh Forest and Wildlife Department and for reassurance for their efforts towards conservation of Pangolins in the province of Sindh.
Dr. Javed Ahmed, a conservation expert, said that the purpose of this meeting is to understanding its distribution and the strongholds. He stressed on the need for identification of hotspots and gaps in the laws to ensure fulfilling of legal obligations towards conservation.
Javed Mehar, Conservator Sindh Wildlife Department said that for transboundary species “we need to give confiscated species the same protection status that they have in their own countries”.
He expressed his concern for lack of published material on Pangolins and urged the stakeholders for publishing appropriate awareness material on Pangolins, such as brochures. He mentioned of the reports that indicated a steep decline in Pangolin population in Sindh and Balochistan border areas such as Chotiari desert and Nara Desert.
The participants unanimously agreed on the development of communication material and raising awareness on the role of Pangolins in the ecosystem.
They also stressed on the importance of working with local communities and establishing economic incentives as individuals involved in poaching are often living in poverty and earn little for their efforts. By providing an alternate source of livelihood or converting the poachers into conservationists.
Participants also agreed for close coordination amongst all the stakeholders and formation of a working group to take this initiative onward.