By Mr. Mahmood Akhtar Cheema
It was saddening to learn of the sad demise of Sardar Naseer Tareen, an ardent conservationist. He started his career as a wildlife filmmaker after his training in the United States. During a series of films on the biodiversity of Balochistan he discovered a rapid disappearance of several species. In the year 1984 with the support of US Fish and Wildlife Department, he set up the first community-run Sustainable Use Conservation Project in Pakistan called the Torghar Conservation Programme (TCP). This programme led the wild goat Suleiman Markhor (Capra falconeric jerdoni), listed on Appendix I of CITES, to be saved from extinction in the region. The population of wild goat and wild sheep Afghan Urial, estimated to be less than 100 and 200 animals respectively when TCP was launched, has now surpassed 3000, thanks to his brilliant intervention.
Sardar Tareen has been a member of IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC), IUCN Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group (CEESP-SSC) from 2009 to 2012. He was also the Chairman of IUCN Central Asia Sustainable Use Specialist Group (SUSG-Central Asia).
Due to his extraordinary accomplishments he was honored with prestigious awards such as the “Order of the Golden Ark” (awarded by HRH Prince Bernhard of Netherlands); Officer in “Order National du Mérite” awarded by the President of the Republic of France; Certificate of Merit awarded by Prince Phillip, duke of Edinburg; and a Certificate of Appreciation awarded by the US Department of Interior (Fish & Wildlife Service). He was also the chairman of Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS) and Balochistan Rural Support Program (BRSP), the Scientific Committee of WWF-Pakistan, and the Rural Support Program Network (NRSP) of Pakistan. He was also a member of the National Council for Conservation of Wildlife (NCCW), the Advisory Board on Environment, the Balochistan Wildlife Management Board, and the Balochistan Environment Protection Council.
His contributions and achievements will never be forgotten. While we cherish his efforts and dedication of the IUCN Commission Member towards conservation of wildlife and environment spanning over decades, we also pray for the bereaved family that God Almighty may grant them the courage to bear this great loss.
It is after all a loss for all of the conservation community, but I hope we can build on his legacy and further the cause – for the betterment of all species.