Auction of four lions, tiger halted, SHC told

September 20, 2020

The wildlife department has held in abeyance the auction of four lions and a tiger, which were recently confiscated from a residential property in Gulshan-e-Hadeed, a conservator of the wildlife...

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The wildlife department has held in abeyance the auction of four lions and a tiger, which were recently confiscated from a residential property in Gulshan-e-Hadeed, a conservator of the wildlife department told the Sindh High Court on Saturday.

The undertaking came on a petition of the Society for the Protection of Animal Rights, which moved the court against a decision of the wildlife department to auction the big cats, and for the relocation these cats to a sanctuary.

The petitioner submitted that the assistant conservator wildlife of the wildlife department had ordered an open auction of the four lions and one tiger, which had been recovered from private possession in Karachi’s Gulshan-e-Hadeed locality. He submitted that there was no rule or mechanism in this regard.

The provincial law officer said that since the time of the filing of the petition, the Sindh Wildlife Protection Ordinance 1972 had been repealed and the Sindh Wildlife Protection, Preservation, Conservation and Management Act 2020 had been promulgated by the provincial legislature. He submitted that such enactment was pending publication and sought time to place a copy on record.

The conservator of the wildlife department informed the court that the big cats were currently housed at the H.H breeding wildlife farm situated in District Malir, which, according to him, was a private facility licensed by the provincial government.

He undertook that no auction of the wild cats would be carried out until the next date of the hearing.

A division bench headed by Justice Yousf Ali Sayeed directed the conservator of the wildlife department to ensure that all proper measures were taken in the mean time for safeguarding their welfare, and adjourned the hearing till October 21.

The wildlife department’s assistant conservator also filed comments on the petition, submitting that the import of captive big cats in Pakistan was not possible without legal papers; however, it needed regulation on technical and legal bases, which remained absent. It was submitted that such absence of regulatory technical clauses resulted in the breeding of big cats and the emergence of such a market that big cats were available for sale in the black market.

The official conservator submitted that the petitioner appeared unable to understand the operative and technical part of the office order. He said that it is binding upon the purchaser that he will not breed the big cats further but may purchase with welfare intention and to provide appropriate housing to the big cats away from human settlements.

He submitted that the Sindh Wildlife Protection Ordinance provides for the establishment of sanctuaries and these sanctuaries are for native wildlife, not exotic as introduction of exotic species into a system where it does not belong is wrong.

He submitted that Pakistan has world class protected areas that include national parks and sanctuaries for native wildlife that is free in the wild. He added that for the animals which suffered any trauma or any shock and also exotic animals that cannot be released in wild and a rehabilitation center at any of the existing wildlife habitats is not difficult to make subject to appropriate technical administration and financial regulations fit for the sector.

The wildlife department official stated that actions of the department remained subjected to good faith and prompt action taken in the instant case was ensuring immediate safety of life and property of the residents and remaining actions are not termed to be hasty.

He submitted that the auction of the big cats was held in abeyance after receiving a notice from the court and said that the relocation of big cats outside the country as backed by some actors from abroad shall not be a technically a sound choice.

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