ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) has warned the hikers, tourists and visitors venturing into the scenic Margalla Hills National Park from bathing into the freshwater springs revived after heavy monsoon rains in the capital.

Chairperson, IWMB, Rina Saeed Khan said, “I know it’s exciting to see so much water in trails inside MHNP but swimming/ bathing in water, especially at Trail 5 is prohibited. IWMB patrolling has now been strengthened and all those people caught bathing/ swimming will be dealt under Wildlife Ordinance.”

The Hills National Park homes rich biodiversity and ecology spreading over an area of 17,000 hectares facing serious risks 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 helped control deforestation 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 revitalized 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 three kilometers 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 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 water in springs is to remain till the months of November and December this year as the experts claim. 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.

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.

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 penalize 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 (ICT) Administration and Capital Development Authority (CDA).

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