KARACHI: The World Wildlife Day was observed on Friday, and for the day this year the theme was set “listening to the young voices” highlights the vital role of youth in tackling conservation issues.It also provides an opportunity to engage and empower the youth who can make a significant contribution towards species conservation in the country.In a message on the World Wildlife Day 2017, Hammad Naqi Khan Director General, WWF-Pakistan on World Wildlife Day 2017 claimed that between 1970 and 2012 nearly 58 per cent of all vertebrates including fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals have been wiped out directly as a result of human appetite and activities.“If the prevailing trend continues by 2020, the planet will have lost two-thirds of its wildlife species. This can only be reversed if we accelerate and intensify our actions and investments which support wildlife conservation in the long run’, he added.Human activities and the accompanying use of non-renewable natural resources have grown so dramatically that since the mid-20th century, environmental conditions that fostered our development and growth are beginning to deteriorate, he added.In Pakistan, the endangered wildlife species particularly freshwater and marine cetaceans, Indus river dolphins, turtles, gyps vultures, and snow and common leopards are suffering due to different threats.Ali Dehlavi, Regional Head Sindh and Balochistan, WWF-Pakistan shared that habitat loss, environmental degradation, illegal trade and climate change are among the most alarming challenges faced by wildlife in Pakistan. The observed decline in species populations is also inextricably linked to the state of ecosystems that sustain them. Destruction of these ecosystems represents a risk not just to resident plants and wildlife, but to humans as well. He further elaborated that as the youth are the future custodians of wildlife, they must develop their interest and take steps for protection of wild species.Muhammad Moazzam Khan, Technical Adviser Marine Fisheries, WWF-Pakistan said that for conservation of sharks, whose population is under extreme threats, WWF-Pakistan has approached Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to impose a ban on carrying shark fins, as many other international airlines have already done. ‘This action will alone ensure protection of threatened shark species in Pakistan,’ he added.WWF-Pakistan, in collaboration with Sindh Forest and Wildlife Departments also organized an event at Lungh Lake, Larkana which was attended by more than 100 people including students from Government High School, Larkana; officials from the Sindh Forest and Wildlife departments and WWF-Pakistan. Participants planted more than 300 saplings of local trees and released around 70 birds confiscated by Sindh Wildlife Department. However, media persons were not invited.The current theme of World Wildlife Day 2017 encourages youth around the world to rally together to address the major threats to wildlife including habitat degradation, pollution, over-exploitation, illicit trafficking and climate change. WWF-Pakistan believes that as youth are future custodians of the environment and wildlife, they can play a significant role in conservation and protection of wild species.