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Hiking and Trekking Tours in Islamabad’s Margalla Hills Are No Longer Free

November 28, 2023

Due to financial constraints, the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) has chosen to charge people and organizations for activities inside the protected boundaries of Margalla Hills National Park (MHNP) to raise money.

This choice was made public over the weekend during the unveiling of the IWMB’s new website by Chairperson Rina Saeed Khan.

In the past, free hiking, trekking tours, and awareness campaigns were held in the national park by educational institutions, civil society organizations, non-governmental organizations, and commercial businesses.

But now, to obtain authorization, organizers must complete a one-page form; the board only grants permits for a single day.

The chairwoman stressed that the IWMB could no longer afford to permit free visits despite acknowledging possible public opposition.

During the ceremony, Abu Bakar, a volunteer, also unveiled the new website, which he had built for free.

The chairman emphasized the Supreme Court’s decisions to close stone crushers, but she also pointed out that littering—mainly plastic pollution—remains a problem in the national park.

The 200 committed volunteers who help the board maintain the park on Sundays are its only funding source and staff. The board is now charging for guided tours of Trail-6 to raise money for conservation activities.

Despite funding difficulties, the IWMB has effectively addressed hunting and poaching issues, particularly in the vicinity of Quaid-i-Azam University. Furthermore, the board’s wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center—located in the former Islamabad Zoo—is essential for qualified personnel working with traumatized and injured wild, stray, and domestic animals.

The board’s dedication to wildlife rescue was emphasized by Chairperson Khan, who gave examples of how they had saved many monkeys, a Bengal tiger, and black bears. To calm people down, she also mentioned releasing a wild leopard that had been rescued from DHA into the MHNP.

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