Similar to other countries, the wildlife sanctuaries in Pakistan are designated special zones where the rare wildlife of the country is protected by the local or provincial government. Public access to these sanctuaries is limited, and in some cases, entirely prohibited.
We had previously given you an overview of the wildlife in Pakistan. And now, we have listed all the important nature reserves in Pakistan, along with the details of species that call the reserve their home. We’ll also discuss their location and help you get there.
So, wear your explorer’s hat, and let’s get discovering!
Wildlife Sanctuaries in Pakistan
Pakistan is home to several protected nature reserves that are often overlooked by tourists. Since the weather has finally become bearable, it is the high time to get off the beaten track and explore these wildlife reserves in Pakistan:
- Astor Wildlife Sanctuary
- Baltistan Wildlife Sanctuary
- Chasma and Taunsa Barrage Dolphin Reserve
- Cholistan Wildlife Sanctuary
- Hub Dam Wildlife Sanctuary
- Kargah Wildlife Sanctuary
- Mahal Kohistan Wildlife Sanctuary
- Naltar Wildlife Sanctuary
- Nara Desert Wildlife Sanctuary
- Rann of Kutch Wildlife Sanctuary
- Sukkur and Guddu Barrage Dolphin Reserve
Astor Wildlife Sanctuary
Sitting near the mountain ranges of Gilgit-Baltistan, Astor Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the few protected rural areas in Pakistan. The nature park comprises an area of 416 square kilometres on the northern division of the Astor Valley. The highland contains a small population of the Astor Markhor – Pakistan’s national animal – which is also known as flare-horned markhor.
Visitors who have been to Astor have also spotted a few endangered species in the region, including snow leopard, Himalayan bear, and Eurasian lynx.
Baltistan Wildlife Sanctuary
In 1975, Baltistan Wildlife Sanctuary became one of the few protected mountainous zones in Pakistan that are home to several endangered species. Covering over an area of 415 square kilometres, this wildlife park is situated in the northern division of Baltistan. Snow Leopard, Brown Bear, Lynx, Tibetan wolf, Tibetan fox, Markhor, Blue sheep, and Asiatic ibex are some animals that roam free in the park.
Chasma and Taunsa Barrage Dolphin Reserve
If you are looking for an off-road destination, Chashma and Taunsa Barrage Dolphin Reserve is the place to be. Famous for the scenic views of Indus River, the barrage is home to some of the rarest species of Dolphins.
Locally known as Chasma Dolphin Reserve, the park falls under the jurisdiction of the Punjab government, and it was opened to the public in 1972. This particular reserve is exceptionally significant for breeding, staging, and wintering areas for waterfowl, which includes some of the most threatened species, including Marmaronetta angustirostris – also known as the marbled duck.
Cholistan Wildlife Sanctuary
Marked as nature reserve near the south-eastern division of Punjab, Cholistan Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the most important wildlife parks in Pakistan that boasts a good mix of rare species nestled in one place. This park is situated in the deserted area of Cholistan and is home to a variety of animals such as Desert wolf, Indian fox, Red fox, Jackal, Small Indian civet, Indian mongoose, and Indian desert cat. While several species of wild cats, falcons, Chinkara gazelle, Blackbuck, Nilgai antelope, Houbara bustard, and Black-backed vulture also make it to the list of endangered animals calling Cholistan nature reserve their home. And if herpetology intrigues you, you’d be glad to know that the reserve is also home to quite a few reptiles, including Indian cobra, Monitor lizard, and Saw scaled and Russell’s vipers.
Hub Dam Wildlife Sanctuary
Situated near one of the most important wildlife parks in Pakistan [Kirthar National Park] and Pakistan’s third biggest dam, Hub Dam Wildlife Sanctuary is among the few marine wildlife sanctuaries in the country. The 32-kilometre area situated next to the dam is explicitly reserved for marine wildlife. People living in Karachi or visiting the city should make it a point to visit the wildlife reserve at least once.
Moreover, Kirthar National Park is situated right next to this marine wildlife sanctuary in Sindh. The surroundings of these two areas are home to Urial, Sindh wild goat, Chinkara gazelle, wolf, jackal, fox, pangolin, several species of waterfowl, and numerous other birds and reptiles.
Kargah Wildlife Sanctuary
Nestled in Kargah Valley and just 5 km north-west of Gilgit, Kargal Wildlife Sanctuary is another vital nature reserve in Pakistan. The wildlife in the park comprises a small population of Astor Markhor.
Mahal Kohistan Wildlife Sanctuary
Located in proximity to the Kirthar National Park in Sindh, Mahal Kohistan is home to several foxes, jackals, jungle cast, chinkara gazelles, urials, and reptiles, including monitor lizards and Indian cobras.
Naltar Wildlife Sanctuary
Established in 1975 over an area of 272 square kilometre in Naltar Valley and mostly known for its majestic lakes, Naltar Wildlife Sanctuary boasts a unique mix of wildlife. According to the latest census, the species found in this region include a small population of Astor Markhor, Alpine ibex, snow leopard, brown bear, grey wolf, red fox, beech marten, and leopard cat.
Nara Desert Wildlife Sanctuary
As the name suggests, Nara Desert Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in the deserted area of Sindh and provides refuge to the precious wildlife of the province. According to the latest census, one of the most prominent wildlife of this region is Mugger Crocodile, while jackals, foxes, pangolins, honey badgers, and wolves are also regularly spotted here.
Rann of Kutch Wildlife Sanctuary
Situated in the south-eastern division of Sindh and in proximity to the Indian border, Rann of Kutch is one of the few deserted nature reserves in Pakistan. The zone is also the only area that boasts onagers in Pakistan, but much of its wildlife has been lost with time. Currently, the prominent species of animals found in this region are Blue bull, Chinkara, and Desert wolf. Meanwhile, visitors have also spotted Nilgai in the park on rare occasions.
Rann of Kutch Wildlife Sanctuary is also known to be frequented by Flamingos, while pelicans, cranes, storks, and waterfowl use it as a staging ground.
Sukkur and Guddu Barrage Dolphin Reserve
Declared as a protected area for Indus Dolphin, the Sukkur and Guddu Barrage Dolphin Reserve is a protected area for marine animals of the country. Sitting on a near-perfect location in Sindh, the sanctuary also attracts a great number of migratory birds.
Currently, the population of Indus Blind Dolphin in the reserve has grown to 400-500 due to the combined efforts of WWF-Pakistan and Sindh Wildlife Department.
Pro Tip: If you are planning to visit any of the sanctuaries on our list, please note that they have minimal facilities for tourists since they are situated in remote areas. It is best to take food, water bottles, camping equipment, sanitizers, and everything that you could possibly need to avoid any inconvenience. Take a plastic bag with you to pick up the litter.
It goes without saying that as a responsible citizen, we have to support and do everything in our power to protect the wildlife since they play a pivotal role in keeping the environment balanced. Tell us how you plan to play your part and care for nature by writing to us at email@example.com.
This brings us to the end of our post on nature reserves in Pakistan. You can also take a look at our recently published blog on the classification of forests in Pakistan. We aim to promote tourism in Pakistan, and you can join us in our cause by sharing this piece with your friends and by subscribing to Zameen Blog. Like our Facebook page to stay updated with every happening in Pakistan.