Wildlife dept finds no legal way to rescue ‘protected’ animals at carnival
KARACHI: Although experts are calling for an action and rescue of the ‘protected animals’ kept in miserable conditions at a family festival where they are currently being used for public entertainment, the wildlife department staff has expressed its “inability to act”, it emerged on Friday.
The carnival in progress in Gulistan-i-Jauhar for some two weeks will conclude on Sunday.
The animals protected under the provincial wildlife law which are on display at the family festival include a jackal, a fox, a pair of mongoose, a pair of monkeys, a pair of porcupine, a fishing cat, an injured stripped hyena and a python. The other animals are: a pair of Persian cats, parrots, rabbits, rats and pigeons.
All animals are locked up in filthy cages which lack sufficient space for their movement, a recent visit to the carnival showed.
“The animal show organisers have got a valid permit issued by our department this year,” said wildlife department game officer Rasheed Ahmed Khan.
According to Mr Khan, the ‘Safri zoo’ licences (apparently meant for nomadic people and those holding circuses) are issued annually by the department for a fee of Rs10,000 and last year four such licences were issued, including the one in possession of the animal show organisers.
There was no restriction on the kind of species the licence holder wanted to keep with him, he added.
Top officials of the department were not available to provide with a convincing explanation on the practice of issuing permits for holding public display of animals protected under the provincial wildlife law and also on the concerns relating to their transportation and the conditions animals are kept in.
Experts at the World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-P), however, expressed serious concern over the matter and urged the department concerned to take punitive action against the people involved in keeping animals especially those endangered in pathetic conditions at the fair.
“Populations of fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus) and hyena have reduced over the years due to habitat degradation, human inhabitation, hunting and illegal trade and these species are now considered locally endangered,” said Mohammed Moazzam Khan representing the WWF-P.
Citing recent studies by his organisation, he said they had indicated presence of only a few specimens of fishing cat in Chotiari Wetlands Complex in Sanghar.
“One fishing cat captured by fishermen was also released by the WWF-Pakistan in 2014 in Keti Bunder, Thatta. This species is listed as endangered in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List,” he said.
On stripped hyena (Hyaena hyaena), he said the mammalian species was considered to be very rare in Pakistan and its population was rapidly decreasing in its range of distribution.
“This amazing animal, which plays an important role of scavenger in the terrestrial ecosystem, is being killed ruthlessly. During a study conducted by the University of Queensland in 1977 in the Kirthar National Park, not a single hyena was physically spotted and it was assumed on the basis of other sources of information that its population in the park was eight,” he said.
According to Mr Khan, the animal has also been reported from the Hingol National Park, but there are no estimates of its population.
“A recent survey conducted by WWF-P this year could not locate any hyena in this park.
This species is considered threatened according to the IUCN Red List whereas WWF-P considered this animal to be critically endangered in Pakistan,” he said.
He also pointed out that the present laws were outdated and needed to be revised.
“Our organisation has recently initiated a project on combating illegal wildlife trade by establishing a national monitoring network that benefits local communities and environment. It is funded by the USAID,” he added.