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In Pakistan a National Park is an area of outstanding scenic merit and natural beauty where the landscape, flora and fauna are protected and preserved in a natural state. Public access for recreation, education and research is provided for. Access roads and other facilities should be planned so they do not conflict with the main objectives of national parks. Hunting wild animals is prohibited, as is firing gun or otherwise interfering with animals and plants. Clearing land for cultivation, mining or allowing polluted water to flow in National Parks is also prohibited. Under the regulations, these acts may be allowed for scientific purposes or to improve the park.
Hingol National Park spread over an area of about 1,650 square km* along the Makran Coast, Balochistan is the largest of National Parks of Pakistan, and is located approximately 190 kilometres from Karachi. The area was for the first time declared reserved in 1988.
The park area covers parts of the three districts of Lasbela, Gawader and Awaran of Balochistan province containing a variety of topographical features and vegetation, varying from arid sub tropical forest in the north to arid montane in the west.
Hazarganji Chiltan National Park is Spread over 38,429 acres, Hazarganji Chiltan National Park, is another beautiful national park of Pakistan. “Hazarganji” literally means “Of a thousand treasures”. In the folds of these mountains, legend has it, that, there are over a thousand treasures buried, reminders of the passage of great armies down the corridors of history. The Bactrains, Scythians, Mongols and then the great migrating hordes of Baloch, all passed this way.
The area is mountainous with precipitous slopes divided by ravines. The Chiltan Hills and Hazar Ganji Range lie west and east, respectively, of the north-south Chiltan divide. It can easily be reached from the provincial capital Quetta and attracts many visitors. Facilities include a museum, picnic spots and accommodation in rest houses.
Kirthar National Park is the the second largest national park of Pakistan spread over an area of 3000 square kilometres. Kirthar was designated a national park by the Sindh Wildlife Department in 1974, the first of Pakistan’s parks to be included in the UN’s listing of National Parks of 1975. In addition, Kirthar qualifies for the strict criteria fixed by IUCN for a Category II protected area, designated mainly for ecosystem preservation.
Margalla Hills National Park, is located in the foothills of the Himalayan range. The topography is rugged, with numerous valleys and many steep and even precipitous slopes. The area is drained by the River Kurang and its tributaries, which flow into the River Soan. This park is the most accessible park in Pakistan due to its close proximity to the national capital, Islamabad.
A visitor centre is planned for Daman-E-Koh, providing lounge accommodation and an information service. Lodges, camping grounds and picnic sites are also planned and the provision of a chair lift may be considered
Lal Suhanra National Park was declared a national park on 26 October 1972, following recommendations made by the Wildlife Enquiry Committee in 1971. Originally, the park comprised an area of 31,355ha, of which 20,932ha were desert, 8,488ha irrigated forest plantation and 1,934ha reservoir; it was due to be enlarged by 22,680ha.
It is crossed by the dried-up bed of the Hakra River and features an important wetland, Patisar Lake. Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation(PTDC) has 6 A/C bedroom resorts in the park. Beside this camping can also be done in selected campsites.
Ayubia National Park is a small national park in the Murree hills. The initial area of the park was 1684 ha, expanded through a northern extension in 1998 to make a total of 3312 ha. The park supports one of the best remaining examples of moist Himalayan temperate forest in Pakistan and is surrounded by seven major villages and three small towns (Nathiagali, Ayubia and Khanspur).
The national park consists entirely of reserve forests, which spill out of the park area on the west and south sides. The scenery is superb with huge pine forests covering the hills and providing shelter to the larger and smaller mammals.
Spread over an area of 3,000 square kilometres, at an altitude of 13,500 feet above sea level, the Deosai, or “Dev Vasai” – the Land of Giant Plains are among the highest plateaus in the world. The highland was named for a famous legend described by the Gujjars, who used to spend summer here and rest of the seasons in Himalayan foothills. They believe in a fable according to which centuries ago there was a “Giant”, who lived there all the year round and grow all the crops he needed for himself on this widespread land. For just over half the year – between November and May – Deosai is snow-bound.
In the summer months when the snow clears up, Deosai is accessible from Skardu in the north and the Astore Valley in the west. In August, Deosai Plains are home to some of the most colourful flora of the world. Stretched for miles apart, are the colourful flowers of species seldom seen in such a large abundance anywhere in the world.
Located in the land of the Kafir Kalash and beautiful Gol valley of Chitral is the Chitral Gol National Park, surrounded by snow clad mountains and pine trees. In fact the Chitral Gol is a narrow valley, its gorge running for some 18km before broadening out into a basin surrounded by high peaks. Numerous tributaries drain into the Chitral Gol, which flows southwards into the Kunar River. This park is famous for its Markhor goats with an estimated population size of 650. Other ungulates, such as Siberian ibex and Ladakh urial (Shapu), occur in very small numbers, as do black bear.
The status of snow leopard changed from tenuous security in 1970 to seriously threatened by 1974. The species does not appear to be resident, visiting the park occasionally. Wolves are seen less frequently following restrictions on grazing by livestock.
Machiara National Pak is located in the Neelum Valley, Azad Kashmir. It is one of the few sites in which a breeding population of the western tragopan pheasant, Tragopan melanocephalus, exists. Western Tragopan, with its brilliant red neck and black and white speckled plumage, is one of the most magnificent pheasants in the world.
But the pheasants are more than just beautiful birds, for they also have scientific value for environmentalists and ecologists. Western tragopan pheasants are also found in most northerly mountains of Pakistan and are on the verge of extinction. World Pheasant Association (WPA) is doing its utmost to save these beautiful pheasants from extinction.
oLcated at a height of over 4000 metres and along the famous Karakoram Highway (KKH) and near the Kunjrab Pass, Khunjrab National Park is Pakistan’s third largest National Park. The park is adjacent to Taxkorgan Natural Reserve in China.
This park was established in 1975 on the recommendation of renowned wildlife biologist Dr. George Schaller, since the population of Marco Polo Sheep was declining at an alarming rate. In fact the construction of the Karakoram Highway provided an easy access to the hunters to the wildlife in the area.
The Marco Polo Sheep’s trophy sells for as much as $60,000 and this rare animal was hunted to near extinction. Also, the building of the highway has disturbed the wildlife in the area and many animals have migrated across the border to China and Afghanistan.