Chitral`s rich biodiversity needs to be explored
CHITRAL, Nov 10: The establishment of Chitral campus of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto University will not only enable youth to get higher education at their doorsteps but also help them to study the rich biodiversity of the area, say local students and experts.
The rich biodiversity of the area remained unexplored due to its inaccessibility and remoteness but the young researchers of the campus would explore it thoroughly, they hoped.
Talking to Dawn , a number of science students appreciated the choice of subjects for postgraduate studies on the campus and said that the flora and fauna of the area would be brought to limelight by the students of botany and zoology.
Haider Ali, a biodiversity specialist, said that there were 64 endemic plant species in the belt of Hindukush mountains, called Chitral spreading over an area of 14,850 square kilometres.
He said that due to the enormity of the area, there was a wide variation in altitude, from 1,094 metres at Arandu in the south to 7,720 metres at Terichmir in the north.
“The peculiar topography of the area has made it an ideal habitat of an affluent variety of plants and animals,” he said.
Mr Ali said that conservation of biodiversity would be possible by enlisting the support of the locals only when they knew the significance of the eco-system.
“The process of dissemination of the desired knowledge in local terms and language will be carried out by the local students, who have been enrolled in the university campus in the relevant disciplines,” he added.
He said that it was encouraging to see that about half of the students of the departments of botany and zoology were girls, who could approach the female segment of the society during their daily interaction. Khalil Baig, a zoologist, said that the number of mammal species recorded in Chitral was 45, which were about half of all mammals in the province.
“The 196 species of birds, 42 species of reptiles and 11 species of fish in the area including the rich variety of mammals make it a paradise for zoologists and the research carried out by the university students for the fulfillment of their course will leave a rich literature on flora and fauna,” he added.
Mr Baig said that the students studying biological science in other cities of the country faced difficulties in selecting a research topic on local species of plants and animal as it was not possible for them to come to Chitral and verify the accuracy of the collected data and other information.
Anwar Khan, a botanist, said that the endemic plant species in the moist alpine pastures, sub-alpine birch, moist deciduous alpine scrub and dry oak scrub would find exposure in the aftermath of research conducted by the students of the campus.
“If explored, the moist alpine pastures will attract different pharmaceutical companies to the area, which is replete with medicinal plants. Chitral may turn into a hub of providing raw material to the companies,” he added.
A faculty member of the university said that in the final year of M.Sc programme, the students would be given only research topics on local species while selected research treatise might be published for the interest of public.