PESHAWAR    -   Notwithstanding the climate change-induced floods, the wild­life was one of the most affected sectors following destruction of its habitats, sanctuaries and protect­ed areas in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where an estimated Rs97.64 mil­lion losses were reported.

Breaking the 30-year record, the August 27 devastating floods, which started from Mataltan, Osho, Uthror and Upper Kalam valleys in Swat, washed away ev­erything that came across its way including the aquatic species and wildlife sanctuaries.

Swat, Chitral, Kohistan, Man­shera and Abbottabad were among the worst affected areas in terms of substantial damag­es caused to wildlife by the flash floods. 

The gushing water has most­ly engulfed the wildlife’s habitats, conservancies, watchers huts, na­tional parks, peasantries and pro­tected areas in these districts by inflicting huge losses to wild mam­mals, reptiles and birds.

“The destruction of wildlife and aquatic species’ habitats and sanc­tuaries by the recent flash floods was apparently linked to the cli­mate change. Pakistan for so many years remained among the 10 countries most vulnerable to cli­mate change and no solid efforts were made by the international community to help it to counter this monster challenge,” Dr Mum­taz Malik, former Chief Conserva­tor of Forests KP said while talking to APP.

Showing his grave concerns over the loss of precious water, he said: “Climate change has two dimen­sions whether there may be a lot of water in the shape of floods or drought in result of minimum rainfall and in both the situations the wildlife and aquatic resources were the biggest victims.”

The wildlife guru said that 90 different wildlife species includ­ing Siberian crane, white backed vulture, long-billed vulture, red-headed vulture, saker, pere­grine falcons, hawksbill sea tur­tle, Kashmir grey langur, Indus dolphin, finback whale, Baloch­istan bear, musk and hog deers, pangolin, Egyptian vulture, green turtle and narrow-headed turtle were endangered by the climate change.

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

He said floods and drought de­stroy wildlife’s flora at their graz­ing habitats, especially in wet lands as well as in high alpine pas­ture areas and in such situation they come down to lower areas for food sometimes attacked hu­mans and exposed themselves to be hunted.

He said we should not forget the devastations of 2010 flood, worst drought conditions during 1999-2003, cyclones in Karachi and Ga­wadar coasts in 2008, Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GOLFs) of Ata­bad Lake in Gilgit-Baltistan, Chi­tral, July 28, 2021 flood in Islam­abad, Murree’s snowfall tragedy 2021 and over 1,500 human loss­es in the recent floods.

“The most concerning thing was that the flash floods washed away fertile soil in forest areas that were providing breeding ground and sanctuaries to the wild animals for regeneration of new plants and thickening of jungles,” Dr Mumtaz said. He added that reptiles were among the most affected wildlife in floods areas and the recent in­crease in the snake bites cases was due to damage of their sanctuar­ies.

“Pakistan accounts for less than one percent of total global emis­sions and the developed countries need to come forward and help our over 30 million flood victims in this hour of need after nearly 1/3 of Pakistan was drowned in the unprecedented floods water.” He said huge revenue was wast­ed after washing of timber in flood water in Swat and Kohistan.