Wild fire behind Bari Imam in Margalla’s forests jeopardizes precious wildlife

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A wild fire erupted on Monday in Sangra village of Haripur District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) along the Margalla Hills National Park has inflicted heavy damages to the wildlife species inhabiting in the nature rich forests of the national park.

The fire for the past two days damaged a larger area of the forests that affected green cover and wildlife in Shahdara and Mangial villages lying close to the areas near the fire site.

Ijaz Shah, a local area resident of Bari Imam told APP that the fire erupted in the forest areas two to three days back that jeopardised a large number of wildlife species including pheasants, peacocks, and deers. He feared that the fire might have burnt the wildlife species alive that were found in a thriving number in the forests.

He regretted that the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) staff only focused a particular area whereas the fire had affected a larger portion of the forest.

He underlined that these were thick forests and the fire had damaged the ecosystem and habitats of birds, animals and plant species. Shah mentioned that the local people had contacted the officials concerned including Capital Development Authority (CDA) but no one reached for help and alleged that the fire was still flaring up in the area.

When contacted, Chairperson IWMB Rina Saeed Khan informed that the Board had proper fire management plan alongwith the CDA.

She said the Shahdara area was falling under CDA’s jurisdiction as per the fire management plan, adding, “the Board staff cannot leave their fire fighting pickets as there are risks of fire surge due to man-made interventions as the fire in Margallas is 90% human created”. She added that the IWMB teams were responsible for the areas behind F-6, F-7 and E-7 Kalinjar Valley.

She added that the fire was under control whereas the affected area shared its territory with the Haripur Forest Division, from where fire erupted, had to be tackled by the relevant department.

She said that it was raining in Rawalpindi and also in the Capital that would help extinguish fire in the area.

Director Environment CDA Irfan Niazi said that the fire actually occurred some two days back in Sangra village of Haripur, KP which reached to Shahdara and was massive size. “The CDA approached the KP Forest Department but they did not respond whereas the CDA extinguished the fire themselves within the KP area and controlled the fire spread.”

He added that a day earlier the CDA staff also extinguished a heavy fire erupting from the back of Dino Valley in Haripur area and spreading till the area near Quaid -e- Azam University.

To a question, he said “It had erupted in the KP area which was not under the jurisdiction of CDA. The CDA cannot probe the fire reasons due to area jurisdiction of the KP Forest Department.”

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