2018
by Wildlife Conservation Society, Pakistan Program

Conservation of globally important populations of highly-threatened species through the creation of new, community-managed protected areas in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan

Back to projects
Community managed nature protection Ecosystem protection Species protection
2018
by Wildlife Conservation Society, Pakistan Program

Conservation of globally important populations of highly-threatened species through the creation of new, community-managed protected areas in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan

This project will conserve critical fragmented populations of highly-threatened species of mountain ungulates and endangered snow leopard through creation of community managed protected areas in Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan region. WCS will build on our success in community-based protected area creation and management, and conservation of threatened and endangered species to protect and recover globally-significant populations of flared-horned markhor, Ladakh urial, musk deer, snow leopard, Himalayan ibex and snow cock. As part of this project, we will monitor mountain ungulate populations, conduct participatory wildlife management planning and monitoring, and build conservation capacity in the region by training and deploying Community Wildlife Rangers.

The project will be implemented through the creation of a new community-managed protected area approach, where local communities will lead on protection, monitoring, and sustainable management of mountain ungulate populations. WCS will provide technical assistance and resources for these key project activities:

  • Strengthen local natural resource governance structures, including creation of community-managed wildlife conservancies;
  • Conduct training workshop and deploy Community Wildlife Rangers to monitor and protect mountain ungulate populations;
  • Conduct field surveys to assess the current status of markhor, Ladakh urial, and musk deer in Bunji-DMTD Conservancy; and
  • Assist communities in developing recovery plans and sustainably managing threatened mountain ungulate populations
Name organisation:
Wildlife Conservation Society, Pakistan Program
Start date:
01-07-2018
Funding:
€9600
Country/Territory:
Pakistan
Name organisation:
Wildlife Conservation Society, Pakistan Program
Start date:
01-07-2018
Funding:
€9600
Country/Territory:
Pakistan Africa
  • Creation and strengthening of local governance structures

In Gilgit-Baltistan, community-based governance structures are essential to conserve wildlife populations and manage sustainably natural resources by linking conservation with socio-economic development. Under this project, WCS staff introduced and discussed the concept of communal conservation institutions and their associated responsibilities, benefits, and bylaws to communities of Bunji-DMTD, and helped them to establish their local organizations, namely the Wildlife Conservation and Social Development Organizations (WCSDOs), following guidelines and instructions of P&WD-GB and of the DCC of District Astore. WCS also provided support and assistance to WCSDOs of Bunji-DMTD for their registration with the government.

  • Enhancing capacity of CWRs and field staff of the P&WD of Gilgit-Baltistan

Generally, CWRs and field-staff of the P&WD-GB have experience and local knowledge of wildlife species and their habitat. However, conducting scientific wildlife surveys remains a challenge for them, due to a lack of technical capacity and field equipment. During the joint winter and spring surveys (2018-2019) conducted in Bunji-DMTD, WCS trained 15 CWRs of Bunji-DMTD and 9 field staff of P&WD-GB to implement replicable counting methodology and to standardize sex and age assessments of markhor and urial.

  • Joint winter and spring wildlife surveys

WCS and P&WD-GB organized joint winter and spring surveys in Bunji-DMTD to assess the population sizes of markhor and urial, and also determine the availability of trophy size markhor. In December 2018, 594 markhor were counted in Bunji, DMT and Doyan conservancies and 68 urial in Bunji and Doyan. In spring 2019, 125 markhor and 123 Ladakh urial were counted in Bunji only. Musk deer surveys could not be done, due to unanticipated heavy snowfall in autumn 2018 across the suitable species habitat, in the area of interest.

  • Baseline surveys and data collection

In order to develop CDPs, WCS collected baseline information on forest, wildlife, pastures, NTFPs, agriculture, livestock, fisheries, ecotourism, health, education, water, sanitation, and communication, using PRA and RNA techniques. The data sets were then validated during group discussions and interviews with the office holders of respective WCSDOs and community members.

  • Development of recovery plan for Ladakh urial

Ladakh urial is a threatened species in Pakistan. WCS has drafted a detailed plan that describes conservation strategies, and provides a roadmap for recovery of this rare mountain ungulate species in GB. The WCS scientific advisor for the Inner Asia Region is currently reviewing the draft. Additional information will be inserted after the completion of the urial survey planned in Bunji (the main stronghold for the species in Pakistan) in November 2019. The improved version will then be circulated among government, scientific partners, and communities for their further review and inputs before submission of the document to the Wildlife Management Board of GB.

Lessons learned

Capacity building of the local governance structures are crucial not only for institutionalizing wildlife monitoring and patrolling, but also for promoting co-management of community managed protected areas, involving P&WD-GB, local communities and conservation NGOs;

  • Working in partnership with government’s line departments, NGOs, and other stakeholders is also important for the success of the project interventions;
  • Outcomes of the joint winter and spring surveys for mountain ungulate species also helped to assess their current status and population trends, as well as allocation and rationalization of annual trophy-hunting quotas;
  • The joint surveys and the establishment of local wildlife monitoring system enabled successful markhor hunts in the project area (Bunji and Doyan) during the hunting season of 2018-2019. The revenue generated from these hunts will further strengthen the community-based conservation program and sustainable development initiatives in the area;
  • Timely availability of quality equipment (cameras, binoculars, and spotting scopes) and other field-gear for wildlife surveyors render the surveys more successful;
  • Regular interactions among the key stakeholders during implementation of the projects also helped to enhance mutual trust and capacities for the co-management of wildlife and other resources;
  • Project interventions for building local governance structures and development of the CDPs were also crucial to meet legal requirements and to undertake community conservation and development initiatives.