National Park Conservation – Reflections on the fourth Journalist Exposure Visit to Ayubia Naitonal Park, Doonga Gali

In the year 2016 exposure visits for journalists are taking place. They are taken to projects that are meant to mitigate or adapt to climate change such as renewable energy and reforestation projects. Location visits, meetings with involved communities and the project implementers provide the background for analyses and reporting back in the newspaper. Journalists likewise act as a watchdog and spread awareness to further promote climate-friendly initiatives.

National Park Conservation

On the 30th July 2016, Heinrich Boell Stiftung, Pakistan took fourteen journalists from print and electronic media to the Ayubia National Park in Doonga Gali. The Park was declared National Park in 1984. It is located within the Western Himalayas, which is globally recognized as an important ecological area. It is situated on a range of mountains running north-south in the eastern proximity of Abbottabad and at the northwestern end of Muree.

The park is home to 203 different bird species, 257 plant species, and 35 mammal species. The WWF aims to protect and conserve these species at an environmental level, whilst also working closely with the local communities in order to protect human livelihoods and improve local understanding of the importance of the wildlife. WWF is acting to highlight the knock-on cultural, political and economic effects that a misuse and misunderstanding of the natural environment and local wildlife is having on ground and at the national level in Pakistan.

The WWF also works for the protection of the Doonga Gali snow leopards. Due to a shrinking habitat and food resource caused by climate change and the expanding local human populations, the Doonga Gali leopards have become an endangered species. As a result of their declining prey sources, these leopards have become more inclined to hunting domestic animals and have also killed humans over the past few years. This has caused serious disruption to local communities: reducing tourism, harming livelihoods, and damaging local confidence in living alongside these leopards. The WWF has focused on how to deal with these problems and build local understanding and confidence to live in harmony with the leopards. Providing compensation to those that have lost livestock, and imparting knowledge on the species are examples of the action the WWF has taken to ensure that these leopards are protected from being killed by humans and that both people and leopards can live alongside one another in mutual harmony. The journalists were given the opportunity to see a Doonga Gali snow leopard and common leopard, and to talk with the local experts and leaders.

Media Coverage

Sohni and Lovely ─ The two snow leopards in captivity in Pakistan  (Dawn News)

Earning by not chopping trees ( Dawn News)

Earthly Matters: A tree for the living, not for the dead (Dawn News)