PESHAWAR    -   Former chief conservator wild­life KP Dr Mumtaz Malik on Mon­day said that highly vulnerable to climate change, Pakistan like other developing countries was also confronted to environmental and weather variation challeng­es making an adverse effect on around 786 wildlife and biodiver­sity resources having a vital role in food chain.

The erratic variations in the weather patterns mostly wit­nessed in the South Asian coun­tries including Pakistan in recent years were making negative ef­fects on biodiversity and wild­life conservation programmes be­sides an adverse impact on their flora and habitats.

“The evolving weather changes embedded in climate change in­clude erratic rainfalls, flash floods, storms, intense drought, heat-waves, rising sea, melting of gla­ciers, inconsistent snowfalls and extreme cold conditions have en­dangered many wildlife species especially in wetland areas in South Asian countries including Pakistan,” said Dr Mumtaz Malik, former chief conservator wildlife KP while talking to APP.

He said Pakistan was among 10 countries highly vulnerable to cli­mate change where wildlife’s hab­itats especially of aquatic spe­cies were shrinking mostly at wet lands besides posing serious threats to shark and whale fish, reptiles and others water animals.

The wildlife expert said climate change had endangered about 90 different wildlife species with some near to extinction. The en­dangered species include Siberian crane, white backed vulture, long-billed vulture, red-headed vulture, saker and peregrine falcons and hawksbill sea turtle.

Kashmir grey langur, indus dol­phin, finback whale, Balochistan bear, musk deer, hog deer, pango­lin, Egyptian vulture, green turtle and narrow-headed turtle were also endangered by the climate change.

Dr Mumtaz said around 786 wildlife species found in Pakistan including 186 reptiles and 173 mammals, and that about 90 spe­cies including 50 mammals, 27 birds and 17 reptiles were placed in categories of endangered, vul­nerable and near to extinction.

He said Convention on Interna­tional Trade in Endangered Spe­cies (CITES) had declared com­mon leopard, snow leopard, Ladakh Urial, greater spotted ea­gle, fish eagle, houbara bustard, crowned river turtle, soft-shell turtle and many other mammals, birds and reptiles were vulnerable to extinction.

“Floods and drought destroy wildlife’s flora at their grazing ground especially in wet lands and high alpine pasture areas. Result­antly, they come down to lower ar­eas for food thus exposing them­selves to illegal hunting.”

He said the frequency of migra­tory birds was also affected by cli­mate change overseas where hab­itats of houbara and cranes were also disturbed.

While terming the Billion Trees Afforestation Project an impor­tant initiative in the green sector, he said, “Preference may be given to plantation of indigenous spe­cies to increase flora and vegeta­tion for an endangered wild spe­cies besides strengthening their habitats for breeding.”

To combat climate change, he said, “We need to increase protect­ed areas, flora of wildlife, curbing illegal hunting and trade of wild animals and monitoring of their habitats besides diverting finan­cial resources for strengthening of wildlife conservation and protec­tion programs.”

Latifur Rehman, spokesman of environment, forest and wild­life department told APP that un­der wildlife biodiversity act 2015, three new national parks includ­ing Nizampur Nowshera, Malakan­di and Kamalban Manshera, six conservancies at Mankyal and Kal­am Swat, Turchtor Koh Chitral, Kumrat Dir Upper, Dir Kohistan and Koh-e-Suleman D I Khan, six game reserves at Gujar Banar, Mandor Swat, Dilan Hangu, Hary­an Kot Malakand, Kamatmekhail­laki Lakki Marwat and Cheena Gul Hangu and four Himalayan to Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) at Bar Qalabaish Banar Swat, Man­gal Thana and Malaka-e-Maha Ba­nar Buner and Minkyal Haripur were established during last four years in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

As a result, he claimed that KP’s wildlife protected area that was only 10.22 percent prior to 2018, was increased to 15.61 percent in 2022. To counter wildlife smug­gling, he said six mobile and 11 permanent check-posts and six joint check posts with the forest department were set up besides recovering heavy fines from wild­life offenders after posting illegal hunting videos on social media