Karoonjhar hills

September 23, 2019

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THARPARKAR district is rich in wildlife. These areas are in the wildlife sanctuary category of Sindh wildlife law. Unfortunately, illegal hunting is common in these areas. This is affecting the biodiversity of the area.

Things may not improve until Nagarparkar and its adjoining areas, including Karoonjhar hills, Jane temples, Bhodesar Masjid and other cultural sight are declared a national park. A national park has the highest level of wildlife protection status and this will attract eco-tourists.

Deforestation and hunting have been harming the ecology of the area and ruining the natural beauty of the Thar desert. The people of Thar are also under threat, for they depend on its natural resources for survival.

The rate of environmental degradation can be ascertained from figures provided by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the ministry of environment. In 1996, the IUCN declared 25 wildlife species on the ‘red list’ of threatened animals. The number has now increased drastically. Similarly, in 2010, the ministry of environment and UNDP declared seven arid zone plants as ‘rare species’ of which five are native to Tharparkar.

There are 154 rare species of plants, 26 species of rare mammals and 400 various types of flowers found in Karoonjhar. A large number of people visit the area, especially during the monsoon season.

If the area is declared a national park and given funds, there will be enormous opportunities for tourism and sustainable growth. The desert is also rich in flora and fauna of both medicinal and commercial value.

There has been no decline in hunting and people come to trap falcons and hunt the endangered Houbara bastard. According to Manzoor Hassan Bhatti, General Sectary of Association for Water Applied Education and Renewable Energy, in Nagarparkar tehsil of Tharparkar, one of the Ramsar (UN convention) sights, there is unlawful activity of extracting resin (gum) from gugral shrub by chemical industry in Tharparkar.

In Pakistan, gugral is found in Sindh and Balochistan, particularly in Tharparkar. This resin is sold at Rs25,000 to Rs30,000 per maund and used in pharmaceutical industry and perfume purposes.

The authorities concerned should take action to save the wildlife, flora and fauna of Karoonjhar hills.

Ali Nawaz Rahimoo

Umerkot

Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2019