Value the Biotic

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Dr M Ali Hamza

The planet Earth is a beautiful place to live in. Thanks to our magnanimous Sun and vast oceans of water that helped lifetoflourish on the planet. No matter where we go on planet earth, the stunning life is surviving through plants, and animals that catch our attention. They are two very important aspects of any ecosystem or what we call nature.In this technological era, humans interact more with gadgets than ever, and it’s almost impossible to find time to interact with nature. When the vacation time knocks, we plan traveling to exotic locations to trek through natural trails or just drive to see herd of fearless animals. This is enabled by flora and fauna that are spread across different parts of the world.

Flora refers to the population of plant life whereas Fauna is the population of animal life in a certain location or time. Flora is also known as ‘Goddess of flower’ and Fauna ‘Goddess of Fertility’. They both regulate the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the air and also provide us with a wide range of food, drink, fabrics and medicines.Flora and Fauna are the most fascinating of all biotic elements. As we appreciate the Abiotic: non-living substances, that are necessary for life to survive and enjoy, such as soil, water, minerals, diverse sights and climate, we need to equally take pride of biotic elements of one’s country.

Promoting biotic elements of one’s country, opens door to another captivating dimension of tourism called eco-tourism. Let’s take an example of Indonesia. They have promoted their Komodo Dragon: Indonesia’s endemic ancient species (that is also the world’s biggest lizard), by establishing Komodo National Park and people just visit one of the islands to only see these dragons. Raja Ampat; world-famous diving paradise, attracts the lovers of marine biodiversity and pristine nature. West Bali National Park is a treat for naturalists. The park has a popular birdwatching spot from where tourists are presented with a real chance to see the endangered Bali Starling. Moreover, places like Bunaken National Park, Sumba Island, Flora Island, Bangka Belitung Islands etc., in Indonesia invite every year a huge number of domestic and international tourists to satisfy their sense of Love for nature and desire of discovery. Other countries like Brazil, Mexico, Costa Rica, Peru, China, Australia, Thailand, Tanzania, Spain, USA, Ecuador, Italy, France, and even Kenya have seriously branded their Flora & Fauna and listed among the best tourists’ spots for ecotourism. There are many other countries blessed with natural treasury of Biotic & Abiotic elements but are poor in showcasing it, unable to offer variety of tourism and resultantly don’t in-cash the potentials. Pakistan is among those unfortunate ones.

Whenever we think of tourism and Pakistan together, generally we start visualizing the gigantic mountains, splendid valleys, and sparkling water streams. But we tend to completely ignorethe very existence of unique Flora & Fauna. Pakistan has lot to offer in this dimension. Beside the long list, lets focus on one of the least highlighted animals that is long-haired, short-legged oxlike domesticated mammal; the YAK – Beast of high altitudes. This specie of ox is only found in the Himalayan region of the Ladakh, the Tibetan Plateau, Northern Myanmar, Nepal, Mongolia,Siberia and Gilgit-Baltistan Pakistan. Few geographical locations that are lucky enough to have YAK, trying to make it worth selling through their eco and livestock tourism. Even some countries like Nepal have introduced Goth Stay, where tourist trailing on high altitudes can stay with families that are breeding YAK, offer friendly engagement with the small community, provide the interesting orientation, andmake the stay memorable through YAK ride, YAK polo, YAK wool, YAK stake etc. Are we in Pakistan taking any inventive steps? The answer is ‘Not Really’. The very next logical question is ‘why not’? and the simplest answer is that we are not valuing our biotic elements to an extent we should, and if we deceptively believe that we are, then at least we are not branding it.

Strangely, if you visit Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan, you won’t find any Statue of YAK. Check out the post cards, you won’t find a YAK post card. There are no YAK ornaments. Kids cannot find YAK t-shirts or YAK toys. There are no decorative YAK crowns or models. YAK mugs and cups are not in imagination. There is no YAK festivity or engagement of YAK in popular events like Sarfaranga Jeep Rally or Shandoor Polo Competition.

It is commendable that Virtual university of Pakistan took an initiative and held first and second international conference on Yak in Lahore and Baltistan respectively. The collaborative role of newly emerged University of Baltistan, Skardu deserves appreciation. This effort brought researchers together. The establishment of first ever Yak Association in Pakistan is the outcome of this conference.Speakers from Germany, China and Mongolia shared their work. Most of the talks in the conference were focused on area of research to improve YAK productivity. A talk on branding YAK, argued on the negligence of not promoting a unique breed and explained basic corrective measure to be taken.  It was an effort to create a ripple in the thought but we need to keep oaring to sustain the ripple to reach the goal.