Facing a shortage of funds, the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) has decided to generate revenue by imposing fees on individuals and institutions for activities within the Margalla Hills National Park (MHNP) protected area.
IWMB Chairperson Rina Saeed Khan announced this decision at the launch of the board’s new website over the weekend.
In the past, educational institutions, civil society organizations, NGOs, and private entities engaged in hiking, trekking tours, and awareness activities in the national park for free.
However, organizers now need to fill out a one-page form before seeking permission, with the board allowing one-day permits.
The chairperson acknowledged potential resistance from the public but emphasized that the IWMB could no longer allow free visits due to financial constraints.
The new website, constructed by volunteer Abu Bakar at a nominal cost, was also unveiled during the ceremony.
The chairperson highlighted the closure of stone crushers under Supreme Court orders but noted that littering, particularly plastic pollution, remains a challenge in the national park.
With limited funds and staff, the board relies on 200 dedicated volunteers who regularly clean up the park on Sundays. To generate funds for conservation efforts, the board is now offering paid guided tours of Trail-6.
Despite financial challenges, the IWMB has successfully addressed hunting and poaching issues, especially near Quaid-i-Azam University. Additionally, the board’s wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center, situated at the former Islamabad Zoo, serves as a vital resource for trained staff handling injured and traumatized wild, stray, and domestic animals.
Chairperson Khan highlighted the board’s commitment to wildlife rescue, citing instances where they rescued black bears, a Bengal tiger, and numerous monkeys. She also mentioned the release of a wild leopard, saved from DHA, into the MHNP to prevent panic.