ISLAMABAD-Owing to weak legislation, Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) is facing impediments in its efforts to control illegal wildlife hunting and trade.

Talking to APP, Assistant Director IWMB Faheem Changwani said the board had recently seized 56 pelts of endangered species worth over Rs0.5 million from four garment shops of F-6 Super Market.

He said the irony of the situation was that under the Islamabad Wildlife (Protection, Preservation, Conservation and Management) Ordinance, 1979 rules maximum fine of Rs1,000 and one-year imprisonment could be imposed on the violators. “IWMB leadership has repeatedly reminded the ministry of climate change to bring amendments to its laws so that the board could extensively take steps to preserve the wildlife and ecology of the federal capital,” he added.

Faheem told that an official proposal was already submitted by IWMB at the ministry which was pending since the last one year. However, the ministry was waiting for getting the new IWMB management in place as it was under process so that further measures to empower the board could be taken, he added.

He said the board team led by him conducted raid on the shops after receiving information about illegal sale of garments made up of animal hides at the Super Market.

He said the pelts included Red Fox, Fishing Cat, Stoats, Minks, Leopard cats, wolves etc.

The illegal pelts were seized as per the Islamabad Wildlife Management Ordinance 1979, he added.

To a question, he said as per the ordinance the pelts could be confiscated as IWMB property and could be used for education and research purposes.

Earlier, the IWMB had traced a leopard hide selling den in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa after arresting seller of a common leopard hide at online portal in the federal capital.

He said a stinger operation was launched in Saidpur area after the hide seller was approached through an online portal where he posted the advertisement for original leopard skin to be sold for Rs80,000.

The board officials managed to deal with the alleged leopard pelt seller, who had claimed that he had two more hides available at his warehouse in Abbottabad.

He said the team had only managed to confiscate the hide and the dealer present in the federal capital, whereas, the rest of the leopard pelts were present in Abbottabad, which was not in their jurisdiction.

The online dealer was put behind the bars after the First Information Report lodged with Kohsar Police Station against him. He had claimed to have barking dear skins, spiders, and black scorpions worth millions, Faheem said.

To a question, he said the hide seller had confessed that the main perpetrators were hiding in far-flung areas of Oghi village near Mansehra where they were providing hides to local people in Mansehra who were then handing them over to others in Abbottabad.

“There are as many as 200 common leopards in the country’s national parks and forests and killing eight of them means a major breach in their ecological system which has badly affected their habitat and animal cycle,” IWMB Assistant Director noted.