The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) – Pakistan is currently investigating a reported sighting of the critically endangered Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) in Punjab, which brings a ray of hope for the species’ revival in Pakistan after an absence of nearly three decades.
Once abundant in the Indus River and its tributaries in Pakistan, the Gharial is known for its long, slender snout and fish-eating habits. However, by the mid-1970s, it was believed to be extinct in the country. The Gharial is currently categorized as critically endangered and faces numerous threats, including habitat loss, poaching, hunting, and depletion of prey.
Encouraging Reports of Sightings
Recent reports from fishermen and local wildlife enthusiasts have raised the possibility of the Gharial’s presence in the waters of Punjab. This development is highly encouraging, suggesting a potential comeback for the species.
Hammad Naqi Khan, Director General of WWF-Pakistan, expressed his enthusiasm regarding the reported sightings, stating that they are exciting news and provide hope for the Gharial’s conservation efforts. The organization is actively monitoring the area and exploring possibilities for cross-border collaboration.
Collaborative Efforts for Data Collection and Confirmation
WWF-Pakistan, in collaboration with local authorities and partners, has assembled a team of experts dedicated to gathering comprehensive data, conducting surveys, and confirming the presence of the elusive Gharial. This collaborative effort aims to ensure accurate information and enable effective conservation strategies.
The WWF emphasizes the significance of conserving the Gharial due to its vital role in maintaining the ecological balance of riverine ecosystems. Protecting this species is crucial for the overall health and stability of the environment.
Future Steps and Conservation Strategy
If the sightings are confirmed, WWF-Pakistan intends to collaborate with relevant stakeholders to conduct a preliminary assessment of the area and hold meetings with local fish contractors and fishermen communities. The goal is to ensure the Gharial’s protection. Coordination with Punjab Wildlife and Parks Department, Punjab Fisheries Department, Irrigation Department, and Punjab Rangers will be vital in developing a comprehensive conservation strategy that safeguards the species and its habitat for long-term survival.