By Muhammad Shahzeb

Pakistan, situated in the South of Asia, is homeland to unique flora and fauna.  This country is blessed with amazing diversity in terms of land and climate. It has snow-capped mountains, sandy beaches, desserts, plateaus, wetlands, lakes and plain fields It is not only home to a wide range of native birds but also attracts millions of birds across the world, from places as far as Siberia.

However even in such lucrative conditions, ecological and geographical diversity ranging from tropical to mountainous, arid zones to fertile lands, there are some birds’ species, which are enlisted as endangered species. Rapid urbanization, unauthorized bird hunting, deforestation, intensification of agriculture, increasingly sophisticated waste disposal practices, natural and man-made disasters have disrupted the delicate ecological balance consequently hampering the biological surroundings of these birds, disrupting food chain and breeding grounds.

Sarcogyps calvus commonly known as red-headed vulture is one of the birds which is at the risk of extinction. This magnificent bird which was a breeding resident in the Salt Range and Jhang was spotted regularly however now it is a rarely seen perhaps near Tharparkar border areas.

The northern region of Pakistan is bestowed with dry temperate forests especially in Indus-Kohistan (Hazara) district which is home to Western horned tragopan (Tragopan melanocephalus). It gets its name “Tragopan” from the displaying males’ resemblance to the mythological Greek god Pan “Tragos “goat” +Pan). This bird is considered to be the rarest of all living pheasants. It is an endangered species both in Pakistan and globally.

The houbara bustard (Chlamydotis undulate) is a bird of arid zones. It is an endangered bird. Every year this endangered bird migrates to the deserts of Baluchistan.  Though officially protected this bird is hunted as game bird especially to please foreign dignitaries and royalties. Due to unregulated hunting and government neglect the population of Asian Houbara has come decimated to dangerous level.

The greater adjutant (Leptoptilos dubius) is huge bird hailing from the order Ciconiidae.

The name “Adjutant” is said to be given by the British colonial troops for the reason that these birds had military like stiff style of walking and a general practice of standing motionlessly like an officer (adjutant) standing at attention.

It was formally bred in Pakistan however this aquatic species is no longer found in Pakistan.   The greater adjutant is enlisted as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

These are few birds, which are at the risk of extinction in Pakistan. There are many which may no longer be found in Pakistan however still might be surviving in the neighboring countries. Unchecked hunting, encroachments on their habitats, illegal trading and trapping still continue. The government has taken the initiative to mitigate the situation for instance Conservation of migratory birds in Chitral, NWFP and many more like this have been established across Pakistan.

Pakistan is a signatory to the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (Bonn Convention) as well as the Convention of the International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora & Fauna (CITES). However, much more is to be done at both national and individual level.

We as the young nation need to be actively involved as well. We can aid by educating and informing local community about importance of conservation of biodiversity. Similarly, many birds are on verge of extinction due to hunting and many government officials call people from other countries to hunt the endangered birds in Pakistan.

We can use social media to impart conservation values and keep a check on government regulations and how committed it is to follow them. We as young nation can organize and empower the local communities, we can pressurize the government to take action and we can help conserve the biodiversity and sustain ecological balance. Even as simple as planting a tree can make a huge difference. As a part of young nation I call out to all the youth of this nation that you and I can together make a difference.

Published in Young Nation magazine on May 15, 2016