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September 28, 2020

Protecting the wild

Editorial

 
September 28, 2020

The bare bones of the animal rehousing problem has been exposed by the difficulties being faced in housing animals displaced from the Marghazar Zoo in lslamabad due to their dismal housing conditions. Due to their mistreatment and mismanagement there are however further problems. The provincial wildlife boards say they have no sanctuary where they can house the animals being rescued from the zoo.

Worse of all there are not enough sanctuaries where animals rescued from the situation they faced at the Islamabad Zoo and other places can be safely housed in habitats that resemble their natural ones. The black bear at the Marghazar Zoo had been injured as a result of being kept in too small a cage behind rigid iron bars and possibly mistreated by handlers at the zoo. It should be noted that the Himalayan bear is an endangered species, the numbers of which in the wild have fallen from around 10,000 to a mere 54. This is obviously a devastating loss to the planet and its ecological system. Hunting and the destruction of habitats is the chief reason for the threat posted to this majestic animal. The practice of forcing bears to dance in the streets for small amounts of money is still continuing in the country. While this is banned, poachers are still capturing wild animals from forests and other environments where they live. It is unfortunate that we do not have sanctuaries or other safe places where these animals can be given back at least part of the life stolen from them. In other nations there are animal experts and even psychiatrists, specialising in animal care, who can help a distressed animal regain calm and if required trust for human beings. The disturbed elephant Kaavan from the same zoo is being helped by such experts.

Given the situation we have encountered at all our zoos, every one of them has a need for persons who are acquainted with animals in captivity to be available to help run these zoos, if indeed they must be maintained. It would be far better if we could keep these animals in other settings like natural reserves. These exist in many places around the world and are now also being seen in less developed countries in Asia and Africa as the realisation grows that we cannot treat animals with the kind of cruelty and lack of concern for their well-being that we are still witnessing at home. It is true the problem has complexities which begin with a lack of resources and a lack of awareness. We need to overcome these problems if we are to spare animals from the suffering imposed on them by human beings.