ISLAMABAD: WWF-Pakistan organised the first international training workshop on establishing Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) based wildlife monitoring and conservation systems in selected Protected Areas (PAs) of Pakistan.
During the launch ceremony, the five-day workshop was formally inaugurated, which aims to set up a technology-based wildlife monitoring and conservation system for the staff of three selected PAs of Pakistan including Khunjerab National Park, Central Karakorum National Park and Margallah Hills National Park.
Officials of the Ministry of Climate Change, provincial Wildlife Departments, Zoological Survey of Pakistan and other relevant government organizations participated in the training workshop.
Saman Hussain Khan, Deputy Conservator Wildlife and National CITES Focal Point, Ministry of Climate Change appreciated WWF-Pakistan’s efforts for arranging the first training workshop on SMART as part of the broader zero-poaching framework.
He said, “Effective management of protected areas and priority landscapes is essential in combating poaching and illegal wildlife trade. Implementing SMART will play a critical role in stabilizing the diminishing wildlife of Pakistan.”
Rab Nawaz, Senior Director Programmes, WWF-Pakistan while speaking on the occasion explained how illegal wildlife trade is now recognised as a transnational organised crime due to its devastating impacts on wildlife and the scale of illicit profits. He said, “We need to join hands to promote consolidated efforts to halt this illicit industry.”
He hoped that the weeklong training will help in setting the basis for the provincial wildlife authorities to adopt and equip themselves with the latest tools and technologies critical to tackling poachers.
Hamera Aisha, Manager Wildlife, WWF-Pakistan briefed the participants about SMART, which is a technology based framework to control wildlife poaching and illegal trade of wildlife. She added, “The project is focused on including SMART based patrolling and monitoring programmes in Misgar Valley along with the capacity building of relevant stakeholders and effective community engagement to control poaching and trafficking at the selected sites. Pakistan will become the first country that will pilot SMART for species conservation.”
Wei Lim Yap, SMART Specialist, WWF International who is leading the training said, “It is difficult to detect illegal trade of each species. The key factors that contribute to increasing wildlife poaching and trafficking include weak coordination among enforcement agencies, lack of political commitment, and absence of public engagement. However, SMART uses technology such as camera trapping, which can be of immense support in curbing illegal wildlife trade.”