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December 18, 2018

Pakistan launches pilot SMART to end poaching, illegal wildlife


December 18, 2018

Islamabad : World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Pakistan Monday launched a five-day first international capacity building workshop on Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) for eliminating poaching and illegal wildlife trade in the country.

Rab Nawaz, Senior Director Programmes, WWF-Pakistan while speaking on the occasion explained how illegal wildlife trade was 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.”

WWF-Pakistan hosted the first national zero-poaching and SMART consultation workshop in collaboration with the Ministry of Climate Change in 2017, which enabled WWF-Pakistan to initiate the very first SMART based snow leopard monitoring patrolling system in collaboration with the provincial Wildlife Departments.

"He also showed hope that the week-long training will help in setting the basis for the provincial wildlife authorities to adopt and equip themselves with latest tools and technologies critical to tackling poachers.

Talking to APP, Manager Wildlife WWF-Pakistan, Hamera Aisha said Pakistan had become the first country to implement SMART patrolling system based on wildlife monitoring and conservation systems in the selected Protected Areas (PAs) of the country for snow leopard preservation in Gilgit-Baltistan and overall wildlife species in Margalla National Park.

She said the software was completely a modern technology based accessible both on android smart phones and personal computers having Global Positioning System (GPS), pictures and various other features that would help wildlife conservators and national park managers to handle patrolling and monitoring of vast areas under their control.

Hamera Aisha said that initially the five-day workshop was formally inaugurated which aims to set up technology based wildlife monitoring and conservation system for the staff of three selected PAs of Pakistan including Khunjerab National Park (Gilgit-Baltistan), Central Karakorum National Park and Margalla Hills National Park.

She also briefed the participants about SMART, which is a technology based framework to control wildlife poaching and illegal trade of wildlife.

He also informed about the upcoming project that will be conducted with the support of WWF Network and in collaboration with Gilgit-Baltistan Wildlife and Forest Department.

The project is focused on including SMART based patrolling and monitoring programmes in Misgar Valley along with capacity building of relevant stakeholders and effective community engagement to control poaching and trafficking at the selected sites,’ she added.

Deputy Conservator Wildlife and National Focal Point for Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), Ministry of Climate Change, Saman Hussain Khan appreciated WWF-Pakistan for arranging the first training workshop on SMART as part of the broader zero-poaching frame-work.

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 stabilising the diminishing wildlife of Pakistan.

Khan added that PAs had been deprived of resources, introducing latest technology solutions like SMART would help in not only building capacity of the wildlife and forest rangers but would also aid in streamlining the monitoring and reporting processes.

SMART Specialist, WWF International, Wei Lim Yap 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.

" He informed that the capacity building had been made and the project in the pilot phase would continue for six months where quarterly or monthly assessment of the progress would be conducted.

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