The Markhor, Pakistan’s national animal, has been declared an endangered species, one that is now mostly found as a highly valued trophy for hunters. With its horns, becoming prestigious ornaments for hunters who pay an excessively high amount to obtain a trophy license by our government itself, it is safe to say that nothing is being done to preserve the fauna of our country, one that is so proudly declared as being diverse and unique.

Just like the Markhor, many other animals have fallen victim to being almost extinct, with the government too busy to acknowledge this grave problem. The common leopards in Pakistan, ones that are living in conflict with local communities, have seen a rapid loss of habitat, which has ultimately caused the loss of natural prey for them. They are dependent on domestic animals for their food resources, and this has led to agitation in communities, and retaliatory killings of these leopards. The government has failed to create safe habitat for them, one that will keep them protected and away from conflict with the nearby communities. WWF Pakistan has reported that there is no protected area established for the leopard, its remaining habitat in Murree is going to be used for urban development and the whole area of Ayubia National Park is smaller than the normal home range of a single leopard.

Globally, the common leopard is listed as near threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and a country assessment shows that the species is critically endangered in Pakistan. A few international conservation organizations, have been working with communities to restore forests around Ayubia National Park and introduce alternate energy sources to reduce the burden on trees. They have also set up veterinary dispensaries to help communities treat their livestock and are working with communities to improve livestock husbandry practices. However, it is ridiculous that our very own government is not doing or saying anything regarding this rapid decrease in wildlife in the country. Recently, a study highlighted that the annual mortality figure for dolphins stands at 12,000 in Pakistan due to the degradation of habitat, pollution and entanglement in fishing nets. The government should take a stand for once to protect something that might not be giving them direct or immediate benefit, and look at the larger picture. Pakistan’s natural environment, forests and wildlife must be preserved. They are part of our diversity and legacy.