Wildlife faces dire consequences of climate change

LAHORE:

If escalating heatwaves are any indication, the worst is yet to come for Pakistan as far as climate change is concerned; however, as our focus remains on human suffering, government departments have ignored the impact of rampant climate change on the country’s wildlife.

Experts from the country have pointed out time and again that extinction is normal and where it used to be a natural habitat has paved the way for development projects. As a result, even if the population of some wild animals in a controlled environment increases, their breeding has experienced a sharp decline.

Climate change has devastating effects not only on humans but also on wildlife. Their breeding seasons and habitats changed while many bird species became extinct. According to experts, the breeding season of animals and birds kept in zoos is also changing. “Natural grazing is depleting causing many species of animals, birds and moths to become extinct.

For example, butterflies used to be common but now they are rarely seen,” said Ashiq Ahmad Ali, a wildlife expert. Ali, speaking about recent flooding in the northern region, said that melting glaciers have consequences for humans, but will also have severe impacts on wildlife that we immediately ignore. “Our natural wetlands, which are less than 5%, now have dams, dams and artificial lakes.

This deters migratory birds from coming to Pakistan. The arrival and departure times of migratory birds in the country are reduced by 10 to 15 days every year and the routes are also changing.” Ali’s observations are supported by BirdLife International, which is a global partnership of non-governmental organizations working to conserve bird habitat, which has stated that more than 40% of the world’s migratory bird species are extinct. Today, more than 90% of birds – including Houbara, Goose, Duck – are vulnerable to human activities and have no coordinated survival efforts for them.

On the other hand, breeding in a controlled environment would also not be planned. “Although we prepare food and animal habits according to the seasons, breeding has started prematurely for the sheep and deer pigs,” complained Dr Madiha Ashraf, veterinary officer at Lahore Zoo. Dr Ashraf said that even birds like the Chakor had started laying eggs prematurely in March instead of the usual April due to the excessive heat.

However, Badr Munir, another wildlife expert, believes that not everything is to blame for climate change. “One of the main reasons for the failure to protect wildlife from climate change is the poor performance of the relevant departments. Administrative positions are filled by people who are not interested in wildlife or forests or have no knowledge of them.

Sometimes when an official makes a policy, he or she is removed before it can be implemented.” Munir, who was also a game watchdog, said that currently the only viable solution was to “plant more trees, stop deforestation, and control the growing urban population.”

Published in The Express Tribune, May 14th2022.

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