IUCN Pakistan and the Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) and Thar Foundation formalized a joint collaboration to undertake biodiversity conservation in Thar in a ceremony on December 20, 2018 at Karachi.
The first initiative under this partnership aims to protect endangered vulture species in the region through both in-situ and ex-situ methods of conservation over a period of three years. The project entails establishment of a Vulture Conservation and Breeding Centre (VCBC) as well as training to Thari communities on preserving and protecting vultures in their natural habitat. External factors which have contributed to the steep decline in the vulture population, such as the administration of harmful drugs like Diclofenac to livestock, will also be addressed.
The ceremony was attended by the Ministry of Climate Change, officials from the Sindh Forest and Wildlife Department, private sector representatives, conservation experts, academicians, as well as civil society.
Chief Guest on the occasion was Mr. Shahrukh Nusrat, Federal Secretary, Ministry of Climate Change. Mr. Nussrat commended SECMC’s commitment to acting as a socially and environmentally responsible corporation, expounded on the benefits vultures bring to the ecosystems where they thrive, and assured full support of the Ministry.
Mr. Naseer Memon, General Manager CSR, SECMC explained that while the company was devoted to addressing the energy needs of the country, it was equally mindful of its impacts on the environment and biodiversity, and recognized the importance of striking the right balance between development and conservation. Mr. Memon concluded that the environment was increasingly a priority for SECMC and that a number of plantation initiatives were already underway around the SECMC facility in Thar.
In his address Senator (Rtd) Mr. Javed Jabbar, Founding President of Baanhn Beli – which will be a partner in the project, said that human intervention had encroached on the habitats of the animals, birds and other species and “has pushed many species to the verge of extinction.” He also appreciated the generous support being given by SECMC as well as the presence of representatives from Tharparkar where this unique bird is found which reflects their serious interest in sharing the responsibility to support the restoration of the endangered vulture species.
Mr. Jabbar also commended the fact that Mr. Shahrukh Nusrat was present, representing the federal government, and congratulated him on Mr. Malik Amin Aslam’s (Advisor to the Prime Minister on Climate Change) recent success at COP 24 of the UNFCCC in Poland – thanks to the efforts of his delegation, Pakistan has been elected as the Vice President and the Rapporteur of the Conference of Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC.
Mr. Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, Country Representative IUCN Pakistan provided a brief overview of the vulture conservation project. Furthermore, he applauded SECMC’s efforts to preserve their environment. He further said that this commitment to strong partnerships is further exemplified in the fact that IUCN and SECMC will also be taking Baanhn Beli, a Thar-based NGO, onboard to contribute to several of the project’s community-related components.
Mr. Cheema concluded his closing remarks with a vote of thanks to the participants for their presence.