ISLAMABAD - Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) Chairperson Rina Saeed Khan on Wednesday said the recent heavy monsoon rainfalls and better protection had helped revive the dried springs of the Margalla Hills National Park.

The Margalla Hills National Park is home to pristine ecology, wildlife and plant species that are sprawling over an area of 17,000 hectares facing acute threats due to wild fires, arson, poaching, hunting and tree cutting.

In an exclusive chat with APP, the chairperson said that the preservation and protection measures by the IWMB through public and community mobilisation have helped control tree cutting and enhance green cover in the protected area.

Rina said the conservation efforts had also improved vegetation on the hiking trails and across the national park that replenished the aquifer of the Margalla Hills.

She added that massive rains and vegetation had revitalised the water level in the springs that were empty for the past many years. “Water level has improved specially at Trail-6 where all water springs are filled with water stretching over some 3km area. Trail-6 is also a leopard preserve zone which is not open for public and hence has unprecedented green cover and plants in the area.”

The IWMB Chairperson said the IWMB rangers and patrolling staff also successfully removed Lantana camara which was an invasive species that used to suck lots of water from underground reservoirs.

She underlined that the IWMB staff patrolling was improved in the National Park to control tree cutting, pollution, littering in the protected area and bathing in the freshwater springs.

“The aquifer of Margalla Hills National Park has also filled to its maximum which is almost 30 feet deep,” she mentioned.

According to Professor Dr. Zahid Baig Mirza, Senior Board Member IWMB, she said the overflowing water springs indicated replenished aquifer which had attained its maximum level after rains.

She further shared the insights of Dr Mirza that the vegetation had also been protected that helped improve aquifer. The rare eye catching spectacles of wild animals and exotic birds like Barking Deer and Kaleej Pheasants have become common in the morning hours at Trail-5 and Trial-3, she said.

To a query, she said the littering on the trails had reduced after extensive public awareness sensitisation by the Board staff and through social media but it was a continuous process. She added, “The removal of invasive species like Lantana is also constant process which should be carried forward.”

Rina mentioned that the wildlife species had dispersed in the National Park due to ample availability of water throughout the protected area and might not be spotted frequently inside the wild area of the trails.

The Chairperson acknowledged the efforts of the volunteers who worked a lot and guided masses to avoid littering on the trails. “There used to be six bags of waste collected by the IWMB staff from Trail-5 that has reduced to only one as of now,” she added.

Margalla Hills National Park, she said, was the most well-staffed national park of the country with a regular strength of 70 personnel with efficient management.

The Board, she said, was awaiting federal cabinet’s approval for the Islamabad Wildlife Management Act which was pending at the forum, adding, “The new legislation would help IWMB to penalise violators, charge fee for entering the national park and generate revenue.”

She added that the details of a recent order of Islamabad High Court also needed implementation by the Islamabad Capital Territory Administration and Capital Development Authority.

She also shared that the Board intended to create fence around the villages to prevent further encroachment by villages like Saidpur village.