ISLAMABAD  - The Margalla Hills National Park is facing many threats, including stone crushing, forest fires and tree cutting, which is squeezing the actual core habitat and concentration of animal and birds in certain pockets.

Ever-increasing human settlements, mining, fuel wood extraction, wildlife hunting, livestock grazing, road construction, air, noise and water pollution, and recently installed lights on the Daman-e-Koh Road are the main problems in the park area. Pakistan Museum of Natural History (PMNH) Zoology Department Director Dr Muhammad Rafique said that such hurdles in habitat and resource partitioning would lead to competition among the species, resulting in drastic changes in species composition and their associations.

He said the park is important, as it “forms the southern most distributional limit for many Himalayan animal species and the northern most limits for many species of the plain areas in the south”.”This park provides a refuge to many indigenous species locally migrating from northern parts of the country when those areas are packed with snow during the winters.

It also serves as a transit place for many species of birds migrating from northern hemisphere, and also serving as an important recreational place for the people of Rawalpindi and Islamabad.” He said the park also provides an excellent spot for bird watchers, as many people in Islamabad enjoy this hobby.

Dr Rafique said the park is unique in the sense that it has a remarkable variety of microhabitats, which is an indicator of high species diversity.

As a result of a series of faunal survey of the park, 54 species of butterflies, 37 of fish, nine of amphibians, 20 of reptiles, 380 of birds, 21 of small mammals and 15 species of large mammals were recorded.

He said that the need was to chalk out a comprehensive management plan for the future sustainability of the park and to convert it up to the level of world-class national parks.