This section discusses international Biodiversity related conventions that Pakistan is a signatory to, other than the CBD.
13.1 Pakistan’s Compliance with International Treaties and Conventions
The Government of Pakistan is a Party to a number of international treaties/conventions related to nature conservation. These conventions and focal points in Pakistan are as under:
Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
Convention on the Conservation of Migratory NCCW
Species of Wild Fauna (CMS)
Convention on Wetlands of International NCCW
Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) MELGRD
World Heritage Convention (WHC) NCCW
Details on the implementation of some of the conventions are given in the following sections.
13.2 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
This convention was signed in Washington on March 3, 1973. Pakistan became a party on April 20, 1976. More than 130 countries have acceded to it so far.
To prevent trade in specimens of species included in Appendix I, II, and III of CITES except in accordance with the provisions of the Convention.
To take appropriate measures to enforce the provisions of the Convention and to prohibit trade in the specimens in violation thereof. In case any violation has already taken place, the main provisions of the Convention are:
To penalise and take possession of such specimens.
To proceed to return the specimens to the country of origin.
To prepare periodic reports on CITES implementations for submission to the Secretariat of the Convention.
The endangered species have been categorised in three different appendices in accordance with their global status. Appendix-I lists critically endangered species with trade potential for scientific, research and breeding purposes only. The species of fauna which are found in Pakistan and are listed in CITES Appendix-I include the snow leopard, Marco Polo sheep, black and brown bears, peregrine falcon, the Houbara bustard, the monitor lizard and marine turtles. The species of fauna listed in Appendix-I are protected because they are listed in provincial legislation for legal cover. Hunting and export on a commercial basis is not permitted. The trade policy circulated by the Ministry of Commerce also reflects the commitment of the Government of Pakistan by listing CITES species in such a category that prohibits their export. An example is the Houbara bustard, an important bird whose arrival in winter also brings foreign dignitaries and at times controversies for its conservation (see Box 18 on the Houbara bustard for details).
Appendix-II of CITES includes species which are not critically endangered, but whose free trade may cause their eventual inclusion in Appendix-I. The Government of Pakistan generally discourages the trade of birds listed in CITES appendices. However, a limited number included in CITES Appendix-II are permitted for export. Such species of fauna in Pakistan include the saker falcon, Indian cobra, mongoose, etc. A few floral species found in Pakistan are also listed in CITES Appendix-II such as the katki and Indian nard. The Government of Pakistan is permitting the export of saker falcons in limited numbers. These falcons are exported to the Gulf for use in falconry. However, such exports are permitted only to the dignitaries or state guests. The permitted floral species of Appendix-II are collected on a commercial basis mainly for medicinal purposes, but their trade outside the country is not permitted keeping in view CITES obligations.
Box 18: Houbara Bustard32
The Houbara bustard (Chlamydotis undulata) - a member of the bustard family, is a migratory bird, which visits Pakistan during the winter season, from mid-September until April. Its breeding grounds are the expansive slopes stretching across the Central Independent States. There are also a few records of its breeding in the Kharan and Chaghi districts of Balochistan. Each year before the onset of the winter season and before the hoary winds from the tundra engulf the region, the Houbara migrates to the warm wintering sites in the south. It enters Pakistan along two main routes: down the Kurram Valley, and secondly, via the Chagi-Kharan area, fanning out into the Dera Ghazi Khan civil division, Kirthar and Jhimpher in the west and the Tharparker tracts in the east. Recent studies show a decline in the populations of Houbara in all the wintering areas of the Houbara in Pakistan.
The Houbara was initially listed as a threatened species and was later taken out of the threatened category by the GOP under the influence of the Foreign office. The reason for this being, its extensive range and distribution, which does not meet the requirements of a species having threatened status as outlined in IUCN’s criteria.
Although the Houbara is legally protected in Pakistan, (it is in the Third Schedule of all three provincial wildlife acts-Balochistan, NWFP and Punjab), it cannot be hunted or captured under any circumstances. However, every winter, foreign hunters, mostly from Middle Eastern countries, are allowed to hunt them. Thus, the Houbara instead of being an issue of wildlife conservation enters the shady domain of politics, foreign affairs and bureaucracy.
The Houbara Foundation International, Pakistan (HFIP) a non-governmental organisation is engaged in conserving the population of the Houbara bustard. It claims that the Houbara bustard is a victim of illegal hunting by locals and foreigners, and that its population is under constant pressure. The HFIP is striving for the conservation of the Houbara population (both the migratory and the resident variety) through its sustainable harvesting in collaboration with local communities. They have also started educational and awareness programmes to restore the degraded habitat. The HFIP has undertaken a number of projects dealing with the Houbara bustard. There is a dire need to ensure the implementation of law to protect the Houbara from illegal hunting. In addition, there is room to strengthen sustainable use programmes that can be run in the Houbara wintering areas providing the local communities living in and around the Houbara habitat are given sufficient incentives to maintain the populations.
Appendix-III includes species, which may be common in one country, but at the same time endangered in another. One example of such a species is the rose-ringed parakeet. Its population is so common in Pakistan that it is considered a pest of fruit and crops. On the recommendations of the Zoological Survey Department, the scientific authority for CITES in Pakistan, a quota for the export of rose-ringed parakeets was fixed at 30,000 for the year 1998.
In order to fulfil the obligations of CITES and to protect the natural wealth of the country, the GoP has imposed a moratorium on the commercial trade of mammals, reptiles, and protected birds. This ban will continue until the year 2001 and if required an extension will be reconsidered. A number of traders are interested in the export of freshwater turtles to China and other countries of Asia. Since most of the freshwater turtle species are listed in the CITES Appendices, the commercial export is not permitted despite the Ministry of Commerce’s recommendations to allow such exports.
The import of CITES-listed species is only permitted if admissible under regulations. It is being reported that Shahtoosh, a fine quality woollen shawl which is made from the wool of the Tibetan antelope, a CITES Appendix-I species, is being traded through Pakistan. Tibetan antelope found in China are being poached for their high priced wool. The shawls are manufactured in Indian-held Kashmir.
Pakistan submitted a proposal to the 10th Conference of Parties of CITES held in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1997 that called for the allocation of an export quota of six hunted markhor trophies. The markhor is listed in CITES Appendix-I. The quota was approved to give an incentive to the communities involved in nature conservation.