Invest in Trails: IWMB’s Introduces Trekking Fee in Margalla Hills
In a significant shift, the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) has decided to impose fees on hiking and trekking tours within the breathtaking Margalla Hills National Park (MHNP). This strategic move is a response to the board’s financial challenges, aiming to generate revenue by charging individuals and institutions for activities held in the protected area. The announcement was made by IWMB Chairperson Rina Saeed Khan at the launching ceremony of the board’s updated website.
Charging Fees for Margalla Hills Activities
The IWMB Chairperson highlighted the increasing number of educational institutions, civil society organizations, and private entities organizing activities such as hiking, trekking tours, and awareness campaigns within the MHNP. While these activities were previously free of charge, the board now requires organizers to fill out a one-page form and obtain permission, with one-day permits being granted.
Acknowledging the potential resistance from the public, Ms. Khan emphasized the necessity of this change, stating that the IWMB cannot sustain free visits any longer. The move is crucial to ensure the preservation and sustainability of the Margalla Hills, encouraging responsible tourism and environmental awareness.
The chairperson also unveiled the board’s new website, developed by volunteer Abu Bakar at a nominal cost. The website serves as a platform for disseminating information and facilitating the application process for those seeking permission to engage in activities within the MHNP.
Documentaries and Environmental Challenges
Before the website launch, Ms. Khan showcased two documentaries shedding light on the challenges faced by the MHNP. One documentary highlighted the park’s creation, biodiversity, and the ongoing battle against plastic pollution, while the other focused on the leopard preserve zone at Trail-6.
Volunteer Contributions and Wildlife Conservation
Ms. Khan praised the dedication of IWMB’s 200 volunteers who assist in trash cleanup on Sundays due to funding constraints. The wildlife board has successfully controlled hunting and poaching, and its rescue and rehabilitation center at the old Islamabad zoo has become a vital resource for handling injured and traumatized wildlife.
Fundraising Efforts for Wildlife Rehabilitation
The IWMB is actively seeking support from individuals and organizations to fund the wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center. The center houses rescued animals, including black bears and a Bengal tiger, requiring significant resources for their care.
Educational Initiatives and Future Goals
Educating the next generation about respecting animals and the environment is a crucial aspect of IWMB’s mission. Collaborating with organizations like Second Chance Wildlife, the board aims to secure a future for Margalla Hills National Park by promoting responsible behavior and conservation efforts.
IWMB’s decision to charge fees for hiking and trekking tours in the Margalla Hills marks a significant step towards ensuring the sustainable preservation of this natural treasure. While the move might face initial resistance, the funds generated will play a crucial role in maintaining the ecological balance and promoting responsible tourism in the MHNP. As the board continues its conservation efforts, public support and awareness remain essential for the long-term survival of this national park.