KARACHI: Balochistan government on Thursday issued a notification declaring Astola Island as the first dedicated marine protected area in the country.
Home to several species of marine and terrestrial animals and plants, Astola is located about 39 kilometres east of Pasni in Balochistan and is considered the largest island along the coast of Pakistan.
The island is uninhabited but has breath-taking views and 200ft high cliffs. Locally called ‘Haft Talar’, it consists of a large tilted plateau and a series of seven small hillocks, with deep chasms and crevices, which are several feet wide.
The endangered green turtle and the hawksbill turtle nest on the beach at the foot of its cliffs. It is also an important area for endemic reptiles such as the Astola viper. The island is reported to support a large number of breeding water birds, including coursers, curlews, godwit, gulls, plovers and sanderling. It is also home to coral reef with around 25 species of coral found in the ocean around the island.
The WWF-Pakistan congratulated the secretary Forest and Wildlife Department of Balochistan for his action over the Astola Island Marine Protected Area (AIMPA).
Published in The Express Tribune, June 16th, 2017.
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