KARACHI: International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Baahn Beli, on Sunday, launched the first-ever vulture-safe vaccination drive in Thar, targeting vaccinating over 6000 livestock in two days, as part of their ongoing vulture conservation programme in collaboration with the Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company in Sindh’s Thar region. Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company – under the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) – is working on various initiatives and projects targeted at interventions aimed to improve life of the Thari communities and enrich the bio-diversity of the region.
The drive was launched at a small ceremony organized in the vicinity of the Gorrano reservoir, which has overtime become a hotspot for birds in the region. Hundreds of local Tharis brought their livestock to the free vulture-safe vaccination camp, which also offered free veterinary check-up. Senior officials from the Sindh Livestock Department, Sindh Wildlife Department, SECMC, IUCN and NGO Baanhn Beli participated in the ceremony.
Chief guest on the occasion was MPA Sher Mohammad Bilalani. Speaking on the occasion, MPA Bilalani assured the gathering that the Livestock department will work towards ensuring the discontinuation of the harmful drug Disclofenac that has been responsible for the steep decline in vulture population in Pakistan. Representative from the Sindh Wildlife Department, Mr. Talpur said that it was mandatory that “we all work together to protect the wildlife which is our asset.” He also explained how different animals play their role in keeping the environment healthy.
Ms. Afia Salam, President Baanhn Beli, IUCN’s partner on the project, explained: 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 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.
Mr. Naveed Ali Soomro, Project Coordinator for the vulture initiative in Thar, described the role of vultures in the ecosystem and explained to the community their role in ensuring vulture nests and trees where vulture nests are located, are protected. He explained how “the dearth of vultures in our ecosystem has led to numerous health issues and how vulture plays its critical role in maintaining a balance in the ecosystem. He also appreciated the generous support being given by SECMC as well as the presence of representatives from Baahn Beli who are working jointly with IUCN for the restoration of the endangered vulture species.
We have already commenced a host of programs under the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to enhance growth and prosperity of the Thar region and through this partnership we are hopeful that we would be able to learn from the expertise of IUCN to further the impact of our programs.”
Mr. Naseer Memon, General Manager CSR, SECMC appreciated the support given by the livestock department and MPA Mr. Bilalani, and encouraged the communities to help the programme achieve its objectives by playing a more active role in creating awareness of the threats to vultures and their role in the ecosystem.