ISLAMABAD: The first-of-its-kind flora and fauna study, launched here on Wednesday, showed that Sindh’s Tharparkar region hosts 149 species of plants, 205 of birds, 41 of mammals, 31 of reptiles, and 1,065 invertebrate and amphibian species.
It found three birds and one plant species to be critically endangered, two birds and one plant species to be endangered, six birds vulnerable, and 10 birds, one mammal and one reptile to be near-threatened.
In a defining moment for Tharparkar’s biodiversity, the study has been launched with the collaboration of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC).
As part of various mitigation and conservation strategies, the study, titled Ecological Baseline Survey Report on Tharparkar, proposes a series of sustainable actions that will enhance co-existence between Thar’s biodiversity and its communities. These efforts include measures such as development of seed banks for various floral habitats as well as community based sustainable practices to create a balance between ecology and communities.
Over 1,300 animal, 149 plant species identified; four said to be ‘critically endangered’
The launch of the study, held under the theme of Partnership for Biodiversity Conservation in Thar, saw the launch of a report and a documentary led by experts from IUCN, SECMC, Sindh Wildlife Department, Zoological Society of Pakistan and Baanhn Beli amongst others in Islamabad.
Addressing the gathering, Amir Iqbal, CEO of SECMC and Thar Foundation, said, “As a future-forward energy company committed to securing the country’s energy needs through indigenous resources, we acknowledge our responsible duty to contribute to the preservation of Thar’s unique ecosystems and enhancement of the community.”
“While advancing our mission to provide affordable electricity, we remain steadfast in uplifting the socio-economic region of Thar, and to this effect we have instituted a number of initiatives such as the Thar Million Trees Programme, bio-saline agriculture and aquaculture in the region for successfully growing apple berry, livestock fodder, and aloe vera while aiming to protect our vulture conservation program with IUCN, whereby over 180 active nests are being conserved for different species of endangered vultures,” he said.
Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, the IUCN’s country representative for Pakistan, said, “This intensive study has been done in the district Tharparkar region to document the existing flora and fauna in the region, to analyse their distribution patterns, evaluate their susceptibility, and identify potential threats to these invaluable natural assets.”
He added that the survey discovered 149 plant species in the area, including some previously unknown to the region, while the survey documented a total 205 bird species, 41 mammal species, 31 reptile and amphibian species, and 1,065 invertebrate species in the region.
Moreover, the documented species were also assessed against the IUCN Red List of threatened flora and fauna and found three birds and one plant species to be critically endangered, two birds and one plant species to be endangered, six birds vulnerable, 10 birds, and one mammal and one reptile to be near-threatened.
The report also recommends conservation programmes for critically endangered species, community-based initiatives, and the development of a comprehensive management plan for desert conservation.
Published in Dawn, November 16th, 2023