ISLAMABAD: People living in villages around Margalla Hills National Park (MHNP) are disturbing wildlife habitats.

Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) Assistant Director Sakhawat Ali said wildlife, including wild boars and leopards, existing in the park were facing serious habitat problems.

He said boars mostly lived in specific areas where female piglets used to leave such places in search of food. However, dumpsters placed on roadsides had been a very good source of food for wild boars. But the boars are now migrating to Ayubia and some other parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa due to human and wildlife conflicts.

Their migration to Ayubia is a good sign as boars would survive there as they were mostly killed by leopards. However, the environment in KP would not be suitable for boars, he added.

“Wild boars had been in abundance across the subcontinent where anthropogenic activities reduced them to certain limited habitats. Long time ago, there had report about the existence of Asian lion in MHNP where hunting pressure resulted in its extinction. It now exists only in India and might have migrated due to unfavourable conditions,” he added.

To a question, the official said wild boars were omnivores and fed on everything. In MHNP they eat calves of barking deer, chicks and eggs of pheasants.

The park, he said, was the last habitat for indigenous flora and fauna of the Himalayan foothills. Moreover, around 25 villages house a significant population on the outskirts of the park with over a hundred thousand domestic animals.

The increasing population pressures, cutting of trees for firewood, hunting of wild goats and jungle fowl and grazing of domestic animals may lead to human-animal conflicts, he said, adding a research by an IWMB official was underway to ascertain the prevailing scenarios.

Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2019

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