The Worldwide Fund for Nature – Pakistan on Thursday gave awards to conservationists and organisations for their role in conserving nature and biodiversity in the country.
The awards were distributed during a ceremony held at a local hotel, where the Syed Asad Ali Conservation Award (SAAC), the Living Planet Award and Women in Nature Conservation Award were handed to conservationists.
WWF-Pakistan officials said the distribution was aimed at creating awareness about environmental issues, conservation of natural resources of the country and mitigating pollution.
Speaking at the award distribution ceremony, Sindh Secretary Wildlife Mushtaq Memon said the province was fortunate enough to have a vast range of biodiversity resources such as the hog deer, the otter and the Indus River dolphin, which were ecologically important.
The WWF-Pakistan successfully completed the first phase of the Indus for All Program in collaboration with numerous stakeholders, including the Sindh government.
He said that the Sindh Wildlife Department was closely associated with WWF Pakistan for various initiatives. Memon added that WWF - Pakistan also supported the department in submitting the draft for the revision of the Sindh Forest Act 1927 and the Sindh Wildlife Act 1972, which were ecologically significant achievements of WWF Pakistan.
Khalid Mahmood, President WWF – Pakistan said the award recipients highlighted the need for sustainability of conservation efforts, which were only possible through the mutual support of organisations and passionate individuals.
Dr Ejaz Ahmad, Senior Director WWF – Pakistan, said the awards were presented to passionate individuals and organisations for their excellent work in nature conservation and protection of endangered species.
On the occasion, the Syed Asad Ali Conservation (SAAC) Award was given to pay tribute to Syed Asad Ali for his contributions to conserve wildlife and the natural resources of the country.
This year, the award was presented to the Abdul Ghani (late), Muhammad Yousaf and Syed Baqel Shah for efforts in their respective areas.
Abdul Ghani (late) was given the award for his dedicated efforts towards the conservation of mangroves in the Kakapir Village of Sandspit.
Syed Baqel Shah was selected due to the fact that he sensitised the local community about the protection of partridges in Thatta and as a result, a 23-kilometre area was declared a no-hunting zone.
Muhammad Yousaf, who lost his son in a leopard attack in Abbottabad last year, was selected for the SAAC Award for the exceptional attitude he displayed in the situation.
He also played an instrumental role in resolving the conflict between wildlife authorities and the local community.
The Living Planet Award was given to those organisations and researchers that made significant contribution to nature conservation through WWF – Pakistan’s Small Grants Program funded projects.
This year’s award was presented to the Nature Conservation Committee for initiating the community-based conservation of pheasants in Hattian Dopatta, AJ&K and the Sonmiani Development Organisation for the promotion of eco-tourism and conservation of natural resources.
Dr Amtul Jamil Sami from the University of the Punjab received this award for her research on the genetics of the Indus River dolphin (Platanista minor).
The ceremony also included the launch of WWF – Pakistan’s Women in Nature Conservation Award. It would recognise the commendable achievement of an individual woman in the field of nature conservation at the grass-root level.
Bibi Sanaz from Balochistan was selected for this award for her devotion and dedication towards the protection of the Jojoba tree, which brought a transformation into the community’s mindset towards nature conservation.
Hajira Bibi was selected for the award for mobilising female community members to take part in the management and conservation of natural resources at Keti Bunder.
Bibi Miraj also received this award for her dedicated efforts towards raising awareness about the protection of natural resources among the women of Shimshal in Gilgit-Baltistan.
Hameeda Keerio from Shaheed Benazirabad received this award for the promotion of alternative livelihood opportunities for the female community associated with tree cutting in Nawbshah.
Nazeeran Bibi was selected for the award for her countless efforts towards women development and conservation of natural resources in Chotiari.
Syed Mehmood Nasir, Inspector General Forests, Ministry of Climate Change; Ali Hassan Habib, Director General WWF – Pakistan and Rab Nawaz, Director Sindh WWF – Pakistan, also spoke on the occasion
Khalid Mahmood, President WWF - Pakistan and Ali Hassan Habib, Director General, WWF – Pakistan distributed the awards, certificates and cheques of Rs50,000/ among the recipients.
Certificates of appreciation were also presented to Jawwad Owias Khan, Collector Customs (Exports) and Dr. Amna Naeem, Assistant Collector of Customs (Exports) of Pakistan Customs for confiscating the consignment of illegal leather jackets with fur trimmings.