All posts by Fatima Arif

Soil: The Life Beneath Our Feet!

Imagine for a moment, how dark and gloomy this world would be without deep blue oceans that hold a realm of wonders in their vast bounds, the tall green trees that embellish the land, the animals and birds that add color to its canvas and the flowers that adorn it with its enchanting fragrance!

Unfortunately, we seem to be headed in that direction as the planet is continuously changing because of detrimental human activities. There is no denying to the fact that overpopulation and uncontrolled industrial activity are the prime factors contributing to it. They have an irreversible impact on the environment which leads to climate change, soil degradation, global warming, and various forms of pollution. Among all these, soil degradation is an issue that needs to be addressed immediately. As soil is the key to life, poisoned soil means poisoned living, and this is what the current picture appears to be.

Healthy soil is essential for plant growth, food and nutrition and landscape that is more resilient to droughts and floods. It regulates the Earth’s climate, biodiversity and stores more carbon than all forests combined. Soil may seem to most people as something not very significant but if reflected, would realize that this brown matter beneath our feet is in a sense giving way to all life on land. Degradation of soil, hence, can adversely affect all beings on earth.

The industrial breakthrough in both developed and developing countries is a major factor contributing to soil degradation. These industries discharge their wastes directly on the land and in water bodies, thus contaminating them.

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People at the heart of WWF-Pakistan – Muhammad Osama

Muhammad Osama is a wildlife photographer with a day job as a Senior Transport and City Planner in Dubai, UAE. He completed his Master’s degree from Technical University of Munich, Germany in Transport Strategic Planning.

Photography became a passion in 2007, when he bought his DSLR camera and took his first photographs at the Zurich Zoo. Going through the pictures later fascinating him, and he decided to explore wildlife photography further. Later, in 2011 Osama visited Masai Mara, Kenya and was awestruck by beauty of the natural world, and that is when his hobby turned into a passion. What is more, Osama also plans to turn this passion into a profession, and sees himself as a full-time wildlife photographer in the next five to six years.

Talking about his most memorable moment in capturing images, Osama shared that it was photographing his favourite animal, black rhino in 2016 in Kenya. Along with his group, he had been trying to sight a rhino for five days without much success. However, their luck turned around on the last day, when early in the morning he got a glimpse of a black rhino, behind dense bushes. After patiently waiting for more than eight hours, the black rhino finally came out in the open, followed by a female rhino along with a calf. “I cannot express my excitement, as it was a once in a life time moment for me to see a black rhino family”, Osama shared.

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People at the heart of WWF-Pakistan – Saira Asghar

Saira Asghar is currently working as Officer Payroll and Contracts as part of the Human Resource department, based in the Head Office. However, her association with the panda goes back a long way.

After completing her B.Com from Punjab University, she joined WWF-Pakistan as a Front Desk Officer in February 2009.

“I got my result in January and I joined in February right out of college, making WWF-Pakistan my mother organization. The working environment of the organization is such that I have never thought of switching to another organization.”

While, she developed an emotional connection with the organization, Saira also wanted professional growth. Keeping this in mind she decided to pursue her Masters degree and enrolled for an MBA degree at the Virtual University, which she completed while continuing her job.

When the time came to pick a specialization she opted of Human Resource (HR), the reason being the nature of her job where she was on friendly terms with everyone, no matter which department they belong to. She interacted with everyone and in the course of seven years understood their problems as well. To her opting for HR meant that she would be in a better position to help her colleagues resolve their professional issues and contribute towards creating a conducive environment for individuals who are fighting the cause of planet Earth.

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Coffee Talk – Racing Extinction

Racing Extinction, is a 2015 documentary that follows a group of undercover activities trying to draw attention to the role of mankind in the loss of at least half of world’s species. The activist group consists of filmmaker Louie Psihoyos, scientists, artists and members of the civil society.

The documentary takes us to the hidden world of extinction with heart wrenching images that are bound to change the way we see our planet and the threat our activities pose to its diversity. Creatures that have called this planet home for millions of years (some even before mankind came into the picture), are losing the battle to the international wildlife trade. The second key threat that is covered is the one posed by the oil and gas companies.

Scientists predict we may lose half the species on the planet by the end of the century. It is believed that we have entered the sixth major extinction event in Earth’s history. This era is labelled the Anthropocene, or ‘Age of Man’, because the evidence shows that humanity has sparked this catastrophic loss. The fifth major extinction was when dinosaurs went packing.

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People at the heart of WWF-Pakistan – Sabiha Zaman

By Fatima Arif

Sabiha Zaman works as a field assistant in the Nathiagali office of WWF-Pakistan. She joined the organization in 1997 and was the first women from her generation who came out to work. Her commitment to nature conservation enabled her to receive the Falcon Foundation Award for Conservation in 2000. Yesterday, on the 70th Independence Day of Pakistan, she received an award for her contributions towards the cause of climate change by Pakistan Women Festival.

In her own words, when she was a young girl women were not allowed to get out of their homes in order to peruse professional careers or education for that matter. This was the reason that she did her Matriculation as a private candidate and didn’t study any further. However, she is fluent is all the scientific names of plant species of Ayubia National Park.

“At that time education for girls was considered a taboo.”

Copy rights WWF-Pakistan

Despite all the restrictions, it was her passion to work. As luck would have it an opportunity presented itself in the form of a project focused on the Ayubia National Park by WWF-Pakistan. For this a local woman was needed. Mr. Arshad in the Peshawar Office referred Sabiha to the team and she was selected.

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Man: A growing threat to Sharks

By Hebah Essa

In the next one hour that I would be writing this piece of blog; 11,000 sharks around the world would fall prey to humans.  (Global catches, exploitation rates, and rebuilding options for sharks, 2013) The shark population along the coast of Sindh and Balochistan face increasing risks every day with Pakistan, being the eighth highest exporter of shark fins in the world. (Dawn, 2016) It is true that a fisherman, who spends days out in the sea hoping to be able to catch enough fish to sustain himself and his family throughout the year, would jump to the idea of catching a shark because of its economic value.

Sharks and rays are increasingly demanded all across the world for their fins and gill plates. In fact; their economic value has increased in the recent past due to the rising demand for shark meat. In the Pakistani market, shark meat sells for about 2.5 to 3 US dollars per kilogram while commercially priced fisheries, such as Tuna, sell for about a dollar or a dollar and a half per kilogram. These aspects make sharks a very attractive hunt.

Copy rights WWF

However, these sharks are endangered species and if they are hunted at the same speed that they are today; the next generation would be alien to their existence. In fact, we have successfully managed to destroy most of the marine habitat and are, today, left with less than one third of the marine species that existed two decades ago. According to the WWF living planet report 2016, Sharks, Rays and Skates are threatened with extinction due to over fishing. (WWF Living Planet Report, 2016)

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People at the heart of WWF-Pakistan – Moazzam Khan

By Fatima Arif

Moazzam Khan, is one of the leading marine experts in Pakistan. He has two Masters degrees, one in marine biology and the other in zoology. Thirty years of his professional career were dedicated to government service where started out as a Research Officer in the Centre of Marine Biology. Later, he went on to become Director General, Marine Fisheries Department; CEO of the Fisheries Development Board and Project Director of Gwadar Fisheries Training Centre among many other positions that constitute his career.

Dedicated to the cause of marine conservation, Moazzam sahib was not going to confine himself to a retired life after the competition of his government service. Once that phase of his career came to an end, he joined WWF-Pakistan as a Technical Advisor – Marine Fisheries to continue working to ensure a world where people can live in harmony with nature.

Copy rights WWF-Pakistan

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People at the heart of WWF-Pakistan – Vinod Kataria

By Fatima Arif

Vinod Kataria completed his education in 2004, with an MSc (Hons) in Zoology from the University of Sindh Jamshoro. He started his professional career as a Social Organizer at SAFWCO, where he worked for three years. Following that he joined the Research and Development Foundation as Site Coordinator before getting an opportunity at AKPBS-P as Team Lead for social mobilization.

Copy rights WWF-Pakistan

In 2010, Vinod joined WWF-Pakistan’s Indus for All Programme as a Natural Resource Management Officer at the Pai Forest site, (Nawabshah), Shaheed Benazirabad. Once the programme came to a close, he shifted to the Chotiari Conservation and Information Centre, Sanghar office working as a Senior Project Officer in multiple livelihood and conservation projects. Currently, he is working as a Community Mobilization and Training expert in the Indus Ecoregion Community Livelihood Project (IECLP).

For the time that he has spent with WWF-Pakistan, he credits the organization for the rich experience that it has provided him. He has developed an in-depth knowledge of fisheries, livestock and agriculture sectors, in addition to learning about the conservation of fauna and flora of both terrestrial and aquatic species in general.

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Navigate the heat

by Fatima Arif

Since the last couple of years, humans have been breaking the wrong kind of record; the rising temperature record! Each passing year is declared the hottest year compared to the previous one.

In Pakistan, the current week is expected to be the hottest week by far in the country with temperature raising to 42 degrees in many cities. And this is  just April, the traditional summer peak months have yet to show what they have in store for us. Given the current trend, it is safe to predict that the coming months will roast us. Serves us right for still not taking climate change seriously!

It is import to take precautions against the heat as it has a direct impact on our health. Continue reading