On Wednesday, PM Imran Khan directed that a preservation zone be set up in the Margalla Hills to ensure a natural habitat for endangered species. This decision has been taken in light of the increasing leopard population in the hill range during a meeting of the committee on climate change that was presided over by the PM.
This is a great step considering how frequently leopards were being spotted by visitors of hiking trails, especially on trails 4 and 6. The plan is that the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) and Capital Development Authority (CDA) will be installing fences and gates around the trails to create a special leopard zone which will provide a healthy ecosystem to predators permanently inhabiting the hills.
During the meeting, PM Khan also accorded approval to the National Climate Change Policy, 2021 and the National Wildlife Policy, 2021. Additionally, he also announced the setting up a think tank to coordinate efforts among various ministries and devise out-of-the-box solutions for climate change mitigation. These are all positive developments considering how a number of ecosystems around the country are threatened at the moment. Be it the protection of endangered birds, black pond turtles, and mangrove trees in Sindh, or the trafficking of indigenous birds abroad, a lot more needs to be done to preserve these delicate ecosystems.
Similar to the one being planned for the Margalla Hills, the government must look into emulating this model across the rest of the country as well. There is an urgent need for us to reflect upon the impact increasing urbanisation is having upon such endangered species and ecosystems. Going forward, our approach must be tailored in accordance to how the environment is changing around us. Pakistan is endowed with rich biodiversity and wildlife that has been endangered due to human activities and adverse weather conditions. Now is the time to redirect resources towards mitigating the damage we have caused and to prevent the further loss and depletion of these endangered species and ecosystems.