- Wildlife Board says Indian pangolin will be safe in Margalla Hills National Park
ISLAMABAD: An Indian pangolin – Manis Crassicaudata – which has been rescued from Taxila will be released by the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) at Trail 6 of the National Margalla Hills Park on Monday (today).
IWMB Officer Sikhawat Ali, who has brought the animal to the federal capital, said that the scaly anteater had created panic among the people due to its horrific look. Shoukat Akash, a resident of Taxila, captured the pangolin and contacted the Pakistan Wildlife Foundation (PWF).
The wildlife official then approached the IWMB, which is custodian of the Margalla Hills National Park for its transfer to the natural habitat to ensure its safety. Underlining threats to the species, he said that the pangolins were massively hunted due to their high demand in the market.
It’s scales were believed to have traditionally medicinal importance, magical powers and ornamental usage. Its flesh and fats were also used in medicines and skin to manufacture clothes and shoes.
Sikhawat said that Margalla Park was the right place for this mammal as a healthy population of this species was under strict surveillance of the Wildlife Board’s protection team there. He said that they were carrying out an awareness campaign for conservation of the species
Due to its high demand in South East Asian states, the Pothohar region, which was considered to be storage habitat of the Indian pangolin, had been witnessing its illegal hunting during the last decade, said Muhammad Waseem, manager for the Pangolins Project at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF-Pakistan).
He said that the Indian pangolin was a critically endangered species. After conducting its population survey and reassessment of threats, the WWF had identified six protection zones to save it from extinction. He said that the six zones included Jehlum, Attock, Chakwal, Rawalpindi and two Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK) districts – Kotli and Mirpur where pangolins had sizeable population.
He said that the community-based organisations (CBOs) comprising eight to 10 volunteers hailing from the respective locality would be set up in each zone to ensure protection of the mammal. The communities would depute guards, who would be educated about the pangolin habitat thoroughly, he said.
To save the pangolin population, Waseem said that WFF was preparing a long-term conservation management plan in which all available resources at its disposal would be utilised. According to IUCN red list data, the species has been in the endangered (EN) category since 2009. This species is protected under the Islamabad Wildlife (Protection, Preservation, Conservation, and Management) Ordinance, 1979 and placed in category three of the third schedule of the Punjab Wildlife Acts and Rules (1975).