_ It is often argued that art finds its place only in the annals of affluence. Probably much for the same reason there are not many organized societies in Pakistan that would develop and nurture the love for art, wildlife and nature itself. Worsening law and order situation and deepening political crisis have played havoc with the lives of the common people.
Particularly after 9/11, the tourism industry plummeted to its lowest ebb. In the year 2009, there were less than 500 visitors to the K2 base camp as compared to 15000 to that of Everest.The country has been in an unofficial state of war for the past one decade. Interestingly though, Northern areas, the major tourist destination in the world, remains the most peaceful place in the country. To quote a French tourist, “These are the safest and most beautiful places in the world".
_ Much of the western Pakistan adjoining Afghanistan is in the process of returning to normalization, the northern areas closer to china, India and Kashmir are completely safe to visit throughout the year.
Pakistan is a country of diverse geographical strata and therefore supports a wide variety of wildlife. With a not-so-encouraging literacy rate, it is difficult to make people realize the importance and need of conservation. The international wildlife channels, however, have done amazingly well to create awareness among the common people in this regard. Though much work needs to be done, the foundation has been laid as the people do understand, to some extent, the importance of ecology and conservation and the harmful repercussions of their absence.
_ The local tourist industry has witnessed an increasing trend as most of the young have finally decided to abandon the luxury of hotels and their cruisers to venture out on their feet. Naran, for instance, which used to be a small hill station at 10000 ft above sea level and at about 250 kms north of Islamabad, have transformed into a bustling small city and a thriving tourist destination.
The major contributor to wildlife conservation in Pakistan is the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) which has done a commendable job in protecting some of the critically endangered species.
_Among other major contributors are the IUCN, Snow Leopard Conservancy, the International Snow Leopard Trust, the Punjab and KPK Wildlife Department and many others. The critically endangered species in Pakistan which are also on the red list are the Snow leopard, the Asiatic Black Bear, Houbara Bustard, and Markhor, Ibex, Indus
Dolphin, Green and Leatherback turtles.
to be continued...