Areas are protected and managed for a variety of reasons including scientific research, wilderness protection, preservation of species and genetic diversity, maintenance of environmental services, protection of specific natural and cultural features, tourism, and sustainable use of natural resources. Wildlife sanctuaries are areas dedicated to the protection and maintenance of wildlife.
United Nations has recommended six categories of protected areas with a wide range of management options. Pakistan’s current legislation recognizes only three categories: National parks to protect and conserve areas of exceptional geological, biological and cultural importance whereas game reserves are to protect flora and fauna. Wildlife sanctuaries are to save groups of wildlife species from harm, and to protect them from extinction. Cholistan is one of the most amazing out of ten wildlife sanctuaries spread across the width and length of our country.
A part of Rajisthan desert called marusthali (region of death); Cholistan is an extraordinary place. The word Cholistan has got its origin from the Turkish word chilistan, which means desert. As per the local lore, the name has been derived from choli (skirt) worn by women of the area. The best way to see Cholistani wildlife is on dirt trails; either in hiking boots or on something with four wheels or four hoofs drives with a lot of water in the backpack.
Geologists say that Cholistan desert was under perennial irrigated cultivation till 1200 BC and under seasonal regular irrigated cultivation till about 600 BC. The area turned into desolate desert when the River Hakra dried up. These days again, the desert is under going a process of change because of canal system originating from the River Sutlaj. But one can still find wildlife in greater Cholistannear borders.
Cholistan attracts not only the highest number but also the highest variety of wildlife that is not found anywhere else in Pakistan. Parha (hog deer), Neel Gaee (blue bull), and Black Buck are most famous varieties of local wildlife. Some other animals of the sanctuary are Desert wolf, Red fox, Small Indian civet, Grey mongoose, Desert cat, Caracal cat, Chinkara grazelle, Peregrine falcon, Saker falcon, Monitor lizard, Saw scaled viper, Russells viper and over 200 types of insects and as much as sixty varieties of snakes.
Most honored guest in 10400 miles rain less tract called Cholistan is Tiloor (Houbara Bustard) that comes from the north each season. Many a times once comes across feathers of Houbara Bustard killed by poachers or lucky one can see a few flying. Houbara Foundation International is trying hard to save the guest bird that is at the verge of extinction due to hunting.
Wildlife in Cholistan has to blend rather than hide. Majority of these creatures is nocturnal and shy, so watching of these requires endurance and good pair of binocular. But when one gets down to dust and sand, the desert is a place of striking animal world.
Wildlife Sanctuaries of Pakistan
- Astor Wildlife Sanctuary
- Baltistan Wildlife Sanctuary
- Chasma and Taunsa Barrage Dolphin Sanctuary
- Cholistan Wildlife Sanctuary
- Hab Dam Wildlife Sanctuary
- Kargah Wildlife Sanctuary
- Mahal Kohistan Wildlife Sanctuary
- Naltar Wildlife Sanctuary
- Nara Desert wildlife Sanctuary
- Rann of Kutch Wildlife Sanctuary