ISLAMABAD  – The whale shark, which was found dead on February 6, 2012 in the Gora Bari area in Pakistani territory of Arabian Sea by the local fishermen, will be displayed in February at Pakistan Museum of Natural History (PMNH) for general public as an icon of biodiversity in the country.

Earlier PMNH was facing shortage of funds to display the whale shark, which was undergoing preservation process.  The skeleton as well as stuffed body of the shark is scheduled to be displayed by February, as four-month tanning period is almost over.

Talking to APP, Director PMNH Dr.Muhammad Rafique said that administration was in search of funding from any organization as the people of Islamabad and Rawalpindi had been awaiting the display of whale Shark, as it would add to the attractions of the federal capital. The display of shark’s skeleton would cost around Rs 0.7 million, he added.

The Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus) is the biggest fish in the world. It is a rare species and declared vulnerable as its population is decreasing at an alarming rate. It was brought to Karachi Fish Harbor on February 7, 2012 and auctioned for Rs. 200,000. The auctioneer who purchased the fish managed an exhibition of this specimen and levied a ticket of Rs. 20.

Knowing the importance of this huge specimen, Karachi Fish Harbor Authority and Marine Fisheries Department came into action and took the possession of this huge shark. PMNH remained in close touch with the Karachi Fish Harbor Authority and Marine Fisheries Department. With consent of all the stakeholders, it was decided that this unique specimen should be preserved and displayed in the Museum for future research and for education.  The skin and skeleton of the specimen has been saved and recovered and was processed in PMNH for its long-term preservation and display.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Museum of Natural History (PMNH) will organize 33rd congress of Zoology from April 2-4 to discuss its all major areas and related disciplines.

Lectures and verbal presentations on topics like entomology and pest management, cell biology, molecular biology, bioinformatics and marine biology will be made during the congress. Director Zoology Department, PMNH, Dr Muhammad Rafique, while talking to APP, said that the conference was held annually in different cities and this year the PMNH would host the event.

National and international zoologists will give presentations on important issues.”Wildlife conservation, fisheries, freshwater biology and issues of genetics will also be covered”, he added. The Zoological Society of Pakistan will collaborate with the PMNH in organizing the event, in which the zoologist of year 2013 award will also be conferred on the outstanding zoologist. Besides, gold medals will be awarded to the scientists, who have showed outstanding performance in their relevant fields. The PMNH was established in 1976 under the patronage of Pakistan Science Foundation, Ministry of Science & Technology.

It has four principal divisions namely Botanical Sciences Division, Zoological Sciences Division, Earth Sciences Division and Public Services Division. The first three divisions are engaged in the collection, identification and research activities pertaining to plants, animals and mineral resources of the country respectively, while the latter is responsible for mass education and popularization of natural history through various displays, exhibits and dioramas.

The organisation has also initiated various projects such as Virtual Orientation Gallery (VOG), Biodiversity Database and Global Networking  (BGN) and Focus Balochistan.