Tribal Leadership Paves the Way
11 Mar 2009
A small grassroots organisation, in Pakistan have created a conservation icon, uniting local communities and saving the straight-horned Markhor a breed of wild goat in the process.
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The mountainous area of Torghar, in the District of Qilla Saifullah in Pakistan, might be deemed an unlikely setting for a pioneering project. However, with the combined efforts of local inhabitants and the untiring work of a small grassroots organisation, they have literally created a conservation icon.
This remote region is one of the last remaining natural habitats of a breed of wild goat, the straight-horned Markhor. Although the animal has become iconic as Pakistans national emblem, it is on the international list of threatened species. In 1986, there were just 56 left.
The Society for Torghar Environmental Protection ‚Ä’ STEP, was set up by Sardar Naseer Tareen. A trained film maker, he became an ‚Äòaccidental environmentalist when he discovered that Torghars rich wildlife was on the verge of extinction, due to the over use of soil and water. To save the Markhor, the organisation had to persuade the mountains inhabitants to ban indiscriminate hunting and take ownership of the animals preservation.
The regions volatile geo-political situation, its endemic poverty, drought and frequent inter-tribal warfare, combined with minimal governmental interest in conservationism, has posed a formidable challenge. Local communities had to be convinced of the economic benefits of conservation and were offered financial incentives to get the scheme up and running. The project has transformed the Pashtun tribes, from traditional hunters into active conservationists, while new revenue is being used to develop better community facilities and infrastructure.
Through STEP, the transformation in Torghar has been remarkable. It is no longer an isolated and under-developed community.Locals now have schools, clean water supplies, road connections and access to nearby hospitals. They are helping their youth obtain a secondary education and creating employment, by enrolling park guards. Sardar Naseers leadership in this project has won him and the area widespread international acclaim ‚Ä’ while Torghar is now home to the largest concentration of straight-horned Markhor in the world.
Contact: Founder, Sardar Naseer Tareen,
STEP, 94-Regal Plaza, 3rd Floor,
Circular Road, Quetta, Balochistan, Pakistan
The Straight-horned Markhor
Photo: ¬© www.billybear4kids.com
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