National Park qualifies strict criteria of IUCN (International
Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources)
and is the largest (308733 hectares) and first of Pakistan's
national parks to be included in the 1975 United Nation's
list of National Parks and Equivalent Reserves. It has
amazing secrets and surprises in store for scientists
and naturalists, who shall find here an exciting field
of study and research.
Most impressive Wildlife of Sindh province, world's
largest fort, the Ranikot fort; centuries old graveyard
of Taung, petrified trees, calcified fossils and much
more is here to discover and marvel at. A photograph
of the amazing Sindh Ibex vertically climbing the sheer
wall of mountain will surely be a thrilling trophy.
Population of key wildlife species of the Park, Ibex
(wild Goat) and Urial(Wild sheep) is 13,000 and 10,000
There are centres namely Karchat, Khar, Thano Ahmed
Khan and Bachani with reasonably comfortable facilities
for tourists established by Sindh Wildlife Department.
National Park lies 80 kms North of Karachi in the SouthWest
of Sindh province within Dadu and Malir Districts. Its
headquarter Kerchat is at a distance of 160 km from
Karachi. The park having an area of 308733 hectares
is a major component of the complex of Protected Areas.
It is contiguous with Mahal Kohistan Wildlife Sanctuary
to the South and Hub dam Wildlife Sanctuary to the SouthWest.
Surjan, Sumbak, Eri and Hothiano Game Reserves lie in
the east of the Park.
park was established in 1974. The area of the park is
mainly Government wasteland. Before partition, this
area was used as a hunting reserve of 'Talpurs' but
after the creation of Pakistan the head of the Burfat
tribe enjoyed the same privilege. In order to check
habitat degradation, a Range Management Project was
started in 1965 by Forest Department. In the same year,
the park area lying in Karachi District was re-classified
as Protected Forest. Most of the tract was declared
a Game Reserve in 1970. The present park area was declared
as a wildlife sanctuary in 1972 under the provisions
of Sindh Wildlife Protection Ordinance 1972 and in 1974
this Sanctuary was converted into Khirthar National
park area is arid with mean annual precipitation of
150-200 mm. Most of the rainfall occurs during July
and August. Temperature often remains extreme, exceeding
38O c during most of summer. There are two main climatic
seasons; winter (Oct-Feb) and summer (Mar-Sept). There
have been drought conditions in the park for the last
five years from 1996 upto 2001 with no rains resulting
in the extreme stresses on the wildlife.
geological formations are calcareous. Limestone predominates
in the hill ranges and the deposits of calcareous material
are common in the valleys. Sandy limestone, shells,
sandy shells and sandstone also occur throughout the
range. Underground water, which tends to be brackish
in limestone, is fresh in sandstone formations.
Drainage of Karchat and its surrounding hills follows
a southwesterly direction via the rain-fed Baran Nadi
to the Indus River whereas the Khar center and its surrounding
areas are drained by the Khar Nadi to the Hub Dam.
The abundance of gastropod and arthropod fossils around
Dawoo Dam and patches of petrified forests near Ranni
Kot and Bachani provide enough evidence that the Khirthar
Range once formed the bed of the sea.
xero-phytic trees and shrubs form open communities related
to soil texture, depth and physiographic factors. The
principal vegetation of the park comprises Acacia senegal,
Acacia nilotica, Prosopis cineraria, Tecomella undulata,
Zizyphus nummularia, Commiphora and stocksiana, Commiphora
wighgtii, Capparis decidua.
National Park is considered as biodiversity hotspot,
which provides important habitat for a variety of fauna.
It is a strong hold for Sindh Ibex. Some 276 species
of fauna have been recorded in the Park. Among these,
three herbivores species, including Ibex, Urial and
Chinkara; and three rare predators such as Wolf, Striped
Hyaena and Caracal Cat are a unique asset of the park.
Since 1974. The population of main ungulate species
i.e. Sindh Ibex has increased considerably due to protection
and reduction of livestock grazing in key habitat areas.
According to aerial survey conducted during November
2000, the famous Ibex has multiplied to over 10695 excluding
game reserve area as against 1200 in 1974. Similarly
the population of wild sheep (Urial) has increased from
150 to 9750 and Chinkara Gazelle to 480. However the
predators number is thought to be lower. The Park is
home to a wide range of reptiles and insects including
colorful butterflies, 203 species of birds including
game and non-game birds, 36 species of mammals, 34 species
of reptiles and 3 species of Amphibians are recorded
within the jurisdiction of the park.
National Park is also rich in cultural heritage. Archaeological
remains of habitation near Koh-trash, Tombs of Taung
and the world's largest fort Ranni Kot Fort are it's
1973 the resident human population in the park area
was about 10,000. According to 1997 survey within the
boundaries of National Park, human population was about
22,000 distributed among 118 permanent villages. The
prominent villages of Park area are Karchat, Bachani,
Taung, Balithap, and Khar. The livestock grazing is
most widespread form of land use along with small-scale
According to 1998 census,the present population is 54,362.
After adding another 15,000 people who live in more
densely populated Malir taluka, tentatively 70,000 residents
live permanently in the Park. Good monsoon rains and
a consequent growth of vegetation in any year might
push this figure past the 100,000 mark.
FACILITIES FOR VISITORS.
best season to visit Khirthar National Park is from
mid of October to mid of March. There are two visitor
centres at Karchat and Khar, and two sub-centres at
Thano-Ahmed Khan and Bachani, which are managed by Sindh
Wildlife Department. These centres offer overnight stay
facilities. For visit to the park, four-wheel-drive
(4X4) vehicles are appropriate.
W. Holloway and Khan Mohammed Khan developed the first
management plan for Khirthar National Park for five
years in 1973 , which expired in 1978. The objectives
of expired management plan were to conserve flora, fauna
and to promote use of natural resources for aesthetic,
educational, recreational and scientific purposes.
ECOLOGY OF IBEX & URIAL.
two key ungulate species of the park are Sindh Ibex
(wild goat) and Urial (wild sheep). According to their
general ecological behavior the rutting season of both
species starts from mid August and ends before the first
week of September. Young Ibex are born during mid-January
to the end of the March, exceptionally unto mid-April,
But Urial are born during the month of February. Population
of both these species is believed to be increasing and
regulated by available forage that varies considerably
due to fluctuation in annual precipitation. As compared
to steep to upper slope habitat of Ibex, the preferred
habitat of Urial is lower and gentle slopes. The group
size of both these ungulates depends upon the availability
of forage but is smallest during the hot season and
largest during the monsoon or rutting time.
Environmental Study of Khirthar National Park has
been prepared by the Hawthorn Consulting Group, University
of Melbourne, Australia, with the assistance of
Pakistani experts and funded by Premier Exploration
Pakistan Limited after putting in rigorous field work
in the park from February to December 2000.