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vultures (file photo: IUCN)

Stakeholders to undertake biodiversity conservation in Thar

KARACHI: IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) and Thar Foundation formalized a joint collaboration to undertake biodiversity conservation in Thar at a ceremony.

A statement issued by IUCN on Friday said the first initiative under this partnership aims to protect endangered vulture species in the region through both in-situ and ex-situ methods of conservation over a period of three years.

The project entails establishment of a Vulture Conservation and Breeding Centre (VCBC) as well as training to Thari communities on preserving and protecting vultures in their natural habitat. External factors which have contributed to the steep decline in the vulture population, such as the administration of harmful drugs like Diclofenac to livestock, will also be addressed.

The ceremony was attended by the Ministry of Climate Change, officials from the Sindh Forest and Wildlife Department, private sector representatives, conservation experts, academicians, as well as civil society.

Shahrukh Nusrat, Federal Secretary, Ministry of Climate Change, said that the Government of Pakistan has established a National Vulture Recovery Committee to enhance cooperation at the national and regional level to provide safe habitats for vultures.

Naseer Memon, General Manager CSR, SECMC explained that the company was devoted to addressing the energy needs of the country. It was equally mindful of its impacts on the environment and biodiversity, and recognized the importance of striking the right balance between development and conservation. He then gave a brief overview of SECMC’s other efforts, through the Thar Foundation, to make Islamkot (where it operates), SDG compliant within the next five years, making it a model for the rest of the country to follow.

Ex-Senator Javed Jabbar, founding president of Baanhn Beli, which will be a partner in the project, said that human intervention had encroached on the habitats of the animals, birds and other species and “has pushed many species to the verge of extinction.”

He also appreciated the generous support being given by SECMC as well as the presence of representatives from Tharparkar where this unique bird is found that reflects their serious interest in sharing the responsibility to support the restoration of the endangered vulture species.

Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, Country Representative IUCN Pakistan gave a brief overview of the vulture conservation project and applauded SECMC’s efforts to preserve the environment. 

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