First National Report Of Pakistan to the Convention on Biological Diversity Ministry of Environment Government of Pakistan Contents

The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS)

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The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS)

The member countries of the CMS are obliged to take the following measures to conserve migratory species and their habitat:

  • Adopt strict protection measures for migratory species that have been categorised as endangered;

  • Conclude agreements for the conservation and management of migratory species that have an unfavourable conservation status or would benefit significantly from international co-operation;

  • Undertake joint research activities.

Migratory species are listed in two appendices. Appendix-I of the CMS lists the species that are in danger of extinction throughout or in a significant proportion of their range. On the one hand, the Siberian crane and the white-headed duck are both protected under provincial legislation; while on the other hand, the Wildlife Department has taken certain measures for their conservation. The Siberian crane is a passage migrant in Pakistan. It stops over while migrating towards its wintering habitat in India (Bharatpur) and its breeding grounds in the Central Asian States. Since its population is so small, it is rarely observed in Pakistan. The white-headed duck is near extinction. The Uchali Complex (with three wetlands i.e. Uchali, Khabeki and Jhalar Lakes) in the Soan Valley of Punjab has been designated as a Ramsar site for the protection of this globally endangered species. Still the population is on the decline due to other ecological factors.

Appendix-II of the CMS includes a list of migratory species that could attain a conservation status only if the implementation of international co-operative agreements is ensured. The species included in Appendix-II are not necessarily threatened with extinction, but would potentially benefit from international conservation efforts, e.g. see Box 20 on the Siberian crane.

Keeping in view the alarming status of the Siberian crane, the CMS has encouraged the range states to sign MOUs concerning conservation measures. Seven member countries, including Pakistan, have signed MOUs in 1993 to help save this species from extinction.

Box 20: Siberian Crane

The Siberian crane (Grus leucogeranus) is listed as endangered in the IUCN Red Data Book as well as in BirdLife International's Birds to Watch 2 - The World List of Threatened Birds. The Siberian crane breeds in Siberia and winters in China, Iran and India. Three flocks are recognised: the western flock wintering in Iran, the eastern flock wintering in China and the central flock wintering in India after passing through Afghanistan and Pakistan. In India, the wintering population has declined from 125 in the 1960s to 2 birds in 1998.

The passage of the Siberian crane through Pakistan is still a mystery. Whatever evidence we have of its passage in the Kurram Area of the NWFP and northern Balochistan is from hearsay only. Lack of any concrete evidence on the species’ migration route through Pakistan adds to the threats faced by the species. The main threats to the species are:

  • Heavy hunting and capture along the important migration routes in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

  • The drying up and disturbance of important wetlands which act as migration staging sites.

Awareness programmes about the importance of the crane have been taken up by WWF-Pakistan in addition to carrying out studies of its migration routes.

Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (RAMSAR)

The Convention on Wetlands was signed in February 1971 in the Iranian coastal city of Ramsar and came into force in December 1975. It was initially adopted for the conservation of wetlands of international importance, especially as waterfowl habitats. Pakistan was amongst the pioneer parties of the Convention. To date, 121 countries have ratified it. Member countries promote wetland conservation by adopting the following measures:

  • Nominating specific sites to the List of Wetlands of International Importance that will then be continually monitored to ensure that they retain their specific ecological characteristics.

  • Promoting the wise use of all wetlands within their territory.

  • Promoting the training of wetland managers.

  • Consulting each other particularly in the case of shared wetlands, water systems or resources such as migratory water birds.

  • Creating and managing wetland reserves.

Pakistan had initially designated nine Ramsar sites, which the Ramsar Bureau monitored. After the Monitoring Mission Report (1990), the list was revised and new sites replaced the three which did not comply with Ramsar criteria. Now there are 19 Ramsar sites in Pakistan which are listed below:

Table 14.2: Ramsar Sites of Pakistan

Name of site

Area (Ha)


Uchali Complex including Uchali, Khabeki and Jhalar Lakes



Taunsa Barrage.



Chashma Barrage



Drigh Lake



Haleji Lake



Kinjhar Lake



Tanda Dam



Thanedar Wala



Astola (Haft Talar) Island



Sandy beach and cliffs, Astola (Haft Talar) Island Hub (Hab) Dam



Jiwani Coastal Wetland



Jubho Lagoon



Nurri Lagoon



Indus Dolphin Reserve



Miani Hor.



Ormara Turtle Beaches



Deh Akro-II Desert Wetland Complex



Indus Delta



The Runn of Kutch



134, 2302 Ha

There is no legal instrument that can be invoked exclusively for the wetland habitats or Ramsar Convention in Pakistan. However, designated Ramsar sites have protected status under provincial wildlife laws. There have been bottlenecks in the implementation of the Ramsar Convention, which are partly due to weak co-ordination amongst the implementing agencies. To cover the problem of co-ordination, the National Wetland Management Committee (NWMC) was set up in 1996.

The seven years Pakistan Wetland Project has been launched by the Government of Pakistan during 2006; it aims to promote the conservation of the country’s freshwater and coastal wetlands and their associated biodiversity by means of creation of enabling environment and provision of replicable models of conservation with community participation. The project is under implementation in four demonstration sites namely: Makran Coastal, Central Indus, Salt Range and the North-western Alpine Wetlands.

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