Islamabad-An Indian pangolin ‘Manis Crassicaudata’, which has been rescued from Taxila, will be released by Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) at Trail 6 of National Margalla Hills Park (NMHP) on Monday. IWMB Education Officer Sikhawat Ali, who has brought the animal to the federal capital, told APP Sunday that the scaly anteater had created panic among the people of Taxila due to its horrific look.

He said Shoukat Akash, a resident of Taxila, captured the pangolin and contacted the Pakistan Wildlife Foundation (PWF). 

A PWF official then approached the IWMB, which is the custodian of Margalla Hills National Park, for its transfer to the natural habitat to ensure its safety. Underlining threats to the species, he said the Pangolins were massively hunted due to their high demand in the market.

Traditionally its scales were believed to have medicinal importance, magical powers and ornamental usage.

Its flesh and fat was also used in medicines and its skin to manufacture clothes and shoes, he added.

Sikhawat said, “The MNHP is the right place for this mammal as a healthy population of this species is under strict surveillance of ‘ IWMB’s protection team there.”  He said they were carrying out an awareness campaign for conservation of the species

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Pakistan Pangolins Project Manager Muhammad Waseem said due to its high demand in South East Asian states, Pothohar region, which was considered to be storage habitat of Indian pangolin, had been witnessing its illegal hunting during the last decade.

He said the Indian pangolin was a critically endangered species.

After conducting its population survey and reassessment of threats, the World Wildlife Fund had identified six protection zones to save it from extinction.

He said the six zones included Jehlum, Attock, Kotli, Chakwal, Mirpur and Rawalpindi, where pangolins had a sizeable population.

Community-based organizations (CBOs) comprising eight to ten volunteers hailing from the respective locality would be set up in each zone to ensure protection of the mammal. The CBOs would depute guards, who would be educated about the pangolin habitat thoroughly, he added.

To save the pangolin population across the country, Waseem said the World Wildlife Fund was preparing a long term conservation management plan in which all available resources at its disposal would be utilised.   

 According to IUCN red list data, the species has been in the Endangered (EN) category since 2009. This species is protected under the Islamabad Wildlife (Protection, Preservation, Conservation, and Management) Ordinance, 1979 and placed in Category three of the “Third Schedule” of Punjab Wildlife Acts and Rules (1975). 

It is also listed in Appendix-II of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES, 2000).This species mainly feed on termites, ants and beetles.