WILDFIRE INCIDENTS: ALARMING THREATS TO BIODIVERSITY IN KP

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Murad Khan 
40 plus aged man with teary eyes came and said that a monkey with his small baby in hands was running from one tree to another tree to rescue her/his child due to sever heat of harsh burning flams of fire on the mountains of Tehsil Baizai, said Gul Bashar Sheraaz, Deputy range officer of wild life department Mohmand Tribal District, who was taking part in firefighting operations on mountains of Anaargay, Aliengaar, Shamsha jarobi Darra near Pak-Afghan border. Explaining the severity of fire Gul Bashar said that the fire was so much dangerous that no one can come close to the fire area and due to fast wind, the fire was spreading on more and more mountains. As this was hilly and mountainous area so the access of Rescue and firefighting operations was very much difficult and tricky, although Rescue 1122, wildlife, forest department, district administration and PRCS voluntaries were trying their best, but still all of them were unable to put out the fire from the most beautiful valley of Mohmand and were looking failed in rescuing thousands of birds and insects, Mr Sheraz added.
The Deputy Ranger of wildlife department said that Chukar, seese, dove, wood pheasant, monal pheasant and so many other birds migrated but their small species, eggs and nests were burnt in sever flam of wild fire and similarly the habitat of other countless species of birds and insects have been destroyed. The historical Ailazai mountain is the only big mountain situated on the boarder of Pakistan and neighbor country Afghanistan, which has been divided into 12 wildlife colonies(Darras), this mountain is always full of costly trees and due to its height, it has a unique weather in the whole District.Mr Sheraaz said that these mountains contains  many species of wildlife animals like Tigers, monkeys, wild cows, goats, Porcupine and so many other local species of animals, but due to this fire incident a huge number of animals will be died and the escaper will be force to migrate nearby mountains.He added that these forests were like Treasures and the only source of food and economy for these poor people living in far flung areas with minimum facilities of food, electricity and infrastructure. They are totally dependent on these mountains for their food, shelter and even business and trade.  The Deputy Ranger of Upper Mohmand added that various myths are famous about fire incidents on mountains, people says that when someone blows fire for creating smoke to bees for taking honey, they did not turn off properly and as a result the fire erects and spreads into the whole mountains. Other believes that they deliberately burn the small herbs and sharbs in order to make a sound ground for the best breeding of seeds and sharbs. In order to prevent our wildlife from disaster, Gul Bashar Sheraaz demanded the tourists that they should turn off all the fire flams properly, when they blow fire for cooking purpose in the hilly and tourist areas, as these small particles of flam can turn the whole mountain into ashes. He also demanded govt. institutions to make full preparations to prevent this kind of incidents in future. 
Another eye witness from a local Radio station Gul Khan kaka said that they took 2-3 hours to reach the fire incident area from district headquarter ghallani. He said that the dangerous fire flams were spreading very fast due to windy and top nature of the mountain and due to lack of facilities the most expensive trees were burnt in fire.
Rescue 1122 sources said after 3 days of firefighting operation, they succeed and took full control on fire. He said that due to farflug, mountainous and hilly area they were facing difficulties in firefighting operation. They were thankful to the Rescue Bajure and Charsada branches, as their fighters and vehicles also took part in that operation. During firefighting two of our rescuers also wounded, the rescue sources confirmed.The rescue sources said that the first ever fire incident came in Halk Gandao area, which was followed by a series of incidents and as a whole in 6 tehsils namely Khwaizi, Baizi, Haleemzai, Safi and Prang ghar, the fire incidents were reported. The areas which were badly effects includes Halki Gandaw, Qalagai, Baizi boarder, Prang ghar,Nahqi Tunnel, Bar sagi ghari,Dawezi kandaow Pandialai, Kamalay Haleemzai,shadad dera,  Marina Khwaizi, Ambar Targhawo side, Angur kor mechanai, Danis kul, Manzari china Baizai, Shamsha bedmanai, Alligaar, Salala and Jarobi dara Elazai.
The Deputy commissioner Mohmand Tribal District Arif Ullah Awan along with district administration staff visited the site and review the overall wildfire operations in boarder area. He assigned the task to rescue 1122 and forest department to prepare a complete contingency plan regarding wildfire incidents to prevent such kind of incidents in the whole Mohmand tribal District. 
Keeping in view frequent incidents of wildfire in the Mohmand tribal district Pakistan Red crescent society Mohmand chapter activate their volunteers in various localities of the district.District Secretary PRCS Mohmand barnch Fauzee khan Mohmand told that they have at least 1200 registered trained volunteers in the tribal district. He added that Pakistan Red Crescent Staff and Volunteers reached the fire on foot due to lack of roads and difficult routes to the mountain range and effectively responded the wildfire in the area.District Secretary Fauzee khan told that Pak-Afghan border areas Manzari Cheena, Shamshah and Baidmani were facing difficulties in extinguishing fires. “PRCS Responders Team Volunteers along with Rescue 1122 firefighters were taking part in putting out fires in the mountains of these border areas” said khan.
He further explained that PRCS Mohmand teams have been engaged in extinguishing the fire since last night under the supervision of District Secretary on the instructions of Secretary  Merged Areas Headquarters Peshawar Saeed Kamal Mehsood. Fauzee khan Mohmand told that there are no special firefighting equipmentss with PRCS even Rescue 1122 team and others aid workers Volunteers therefore state-of-the-art machinery needed for firefighting in the mountains.Fauzee khan told that soon awareness trainings will be conducted for the local community jointly by PRCS/1122 with support of forest department so that to prevent wildfire incidents in the tribal district.After the  frequent incidents of forest fire in KP and especially in the district administration of Mohmand with support of the Forest department, Rescue 1122, PRCS Mohmand and others stakeholders has formed Forest Fire Management Team (FFMTs) at district level to prevent such incidents in future.According to the report of Relief Rehabilitation & Settlement Department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, more than 400 fire incidents were reported in just May and 1st ten days of Jun month. In these incidents among one rescuer of 1122 around 5 were died in different parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Beside this, in these fire incidents countless trees, herbs sharbs and wildlife changed into ashes, The environmental scientists believes that this is a big threat not only to Biodiversity, climate change and environment, but due to these incidents the old and historic civilization of villages will came to an end, as a result of Environmental Migration.
The Writer is environmental Journalist and currently working as Station Manager at Pakhtunkhwa Radio Mohmand, who Tweets on @Muradonline123.