Today we lost a legendary and historical personality of Chitral Shahzada Khush Ahmad-Ul-Mulk -an eminent amateur Botanist and Conservationist of Chitral. Besides his social and political services and contribution for the development of Chitral, his conscious efforts, devotion and contribution for protection, promotion and conservation of nature and natural environment of Chitral will always be remembered.
He had established a Botanical Garden at his Ayun Fort and collected almost all types of trees, shrubs, bushes and climbers from the mountain forests s of Chitral and successfully planted them in his garden. He utilized each part of garden meticulously and planted different plant species keeping the habits and ecological needs of individual plant species. Even in his late 60s He used to go on expedition to difficult mountains terrains in Chitral and part of north and north eastern Afghanistan to collect seeds of unique and threatened plant species for ex-situ conservation purposes in his garden.
He had a vast knowledge and experience in plant science particularly in plant taxonomy and silviculture without having relevant professional education and degrees that was the craze he had for protection, preservation of nature and natural environment. He did all these daunting jobs all on his own personal expenses, he never got any fund from donor and or project for this purpose. Once on enquiry about the huge cost involved in this business, he told me that “I have not much needs, what income I have, I am spending on plants and on my garden”.
He had a strong network of friends hailing from different segment of society including scientists, conservationists, foresters, agriculturists, amateur Botanists and plant lovers, nature loving tourists both at national and international levels. Many exotic plant both deciduous as well as evergreen conifers species he either brought himself from European countries or his friends brought or sent to him for his botanical garden. All the exotic plants growing well and added value to the collection of plants in the garden and at the same time it gives a message to relevant government departments, local community and plants lovers that which exotic tree, shrubs and bushes can be grown in Chitral besides local indigenous species.
He was in love of serenity and natural beauty of Chitral and often talked about the unique culture, tradition and attractive natural environment of Chitral, which offers a lot for the national and international tourists to visit and see the beauty of nature and serene environment of Chitral.
Besides others, one of his thought was that the vegetation, trees, plants in Chitral present a mosaic autumn color to the local environment and has great potential to attract nature loving tourists to Chitral for the economic well- being of the people of Chitral. He used to say that some plants/trees of Chitral like apricot, mulberry, apple, pomegranate, poplar, willow, hawthorn etc. have unique mosaic hue and color during autumn. The only thing is that we have to create awareness among the people and with little effort of proper configuration of the trees, the area/valleys can be converted into a unique panorama of mosaic hue and color to attract nature loving tourists to Chitral. In this connection he has demonstrated this idea in small scale in his garden and field boundaries in Balavosht Ayun, Chitral, which can be visited and seen during autumn season.
Anyways with these few words I expressed my feeling and memories which I have had with Shahzada sahib particularly between 2003 to 2007 when I was associated with the World Conservation Union (IUCN) Chitral.
May almighty Allah bless the departed soul in eternal peace and grant strength and fortitude to the bereaved family to bear this irreparable loss in the family- Amen. .. Aziz Ali, AKF Kabul Afghanistan, 03 June2017