Islamabad - Senior Director World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Pakistan chapter, Dr Ejaz Ahmad yesterday urged the government to devise a comprehensive policy for wildlife conservation as it is an integral part of the country’s biodiversity.

He said Pakistan’s wildlife consisted of some 668 species of birds, 195 species of mammals and 192 species of reptiles. For the protection and conservation of these species and their habitat, a network of protected areas was currently in place working under the Provincial Wildlife Protection Laws, he said while talking to APP.

Dr Ijaz said there were 26 national parks, 92 wildlife sanctuaries, 89 game reserves and 115 community reserve while the network of protected areas covered about 12 per cent of the land area of the country.

Highlighting the needs for protection of biodiversity in Pakistan, he wildlife was most vulnerable to global warming. “Global warming and climate changes are forcing wildlife to change their behaviours such as many birds are nesting, breeding, and migrating earlier as spring arrives sooner than before,” he added.

According to scientists, if the global temperature rose by 1.5xC then 25 per cent of the Earth’s animals and plants would disappear while 3xC rise would see 30 per cent disappearance of animals and plants, he said.

Dr Ejaz that the Earth’s average temperature had warmed by about 0.76xC over the last 100 years, with most of this warming occurring in last 20 years.

This temperature rise though seemed to be small but it might translate into big changes in the world’s climate, he added.

He said huge amount of energy was being consumed across the globe resulting in warming. This extra energy was like force-feeding and changing the global climate system. The global warming, he said, was melting glaciers in every part of the world, putting millions of people at risk from floods, droughts and shortages of drinking water. Dr Ijaz said that since inception of satellite temperature measurements system during 1979, Scotland became the hottest place on record. In 2003 hundreds of adult salmons were killed as rivers had become too warm for them to extract enough oxygen from the water.

Summer temperatures in European capitals had increased by up to 2xC over the last 30 years, he added. He said that rising sea levels threatened the e0ntire nations on low-lying islands in the Pacific and Indian oceans. The global warming, he said, also contributed to Australia’s worst drought.

Dr Ijaz said it was a good omen that the Government of Pakistan was conducting vulnerability assessments and recommending management strategies for some of the most important species, WWF was recommending for.