Marghzar Zoo official admits inability to care for animals
ISLAMABAD: As officials of the sole zoo in the federal capital admitted on Tuesday that they neither have the funds nor are adequately equipped to properly take care of animals there, a court directed the Climate Change ministry, zoo administration and the wildlife board to take within three days steps to improve the condition for crocodiles there.
This was directed by a bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC), led by Chief Justice Athar Minallah, as it heard a case filed by the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) against the Islamabad Metropolitan Corporation (IMC) over the appalling conditions for Marsh Crocodiles kept at the Marghzar Zoo in the capital.
During Tuesday’s proceedings, the petitioner’s counsel Owais Awan, Raja Abid Hassan and Muhammad Malik appeared before the court and said that officers of IMC had allegedly shot stray dogs.
At this, the IMC’s lawyers Adil Aziz Qazi and Shaista Tabassum replied that the action was taken after they received complaints about.
At this, Chief Justice Minallah inquired after the IMC’s responsibilities towards stray dogs.
IWMB chairman also appeared before the court and noted that the marsh crocodiles have been kept in deplorable conditions in the zoo. The crocodile is found in southern Iran, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka and is listed as ‘Vulnerable” in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List since 1982.
The wildlife board chief contended that the crocodile should be shifted to its natural habitat in Sukkur or to any other zoo of the country.
At this, the court expressed its extreme displeasure with the Marghzar Zoo Deputy Director M Bilal.
The zoo official, however, responded that the crocodile was facing no survival threat in its current captive state.
“You should then present an affidavit that if something happens to the crocodile, you will be responsible,” Chief Justice Minallah remarked.
Bilal, however, went on to concede they are unable to take proper care of the crocodile owing to a lack of funds.
CJ Minallah went on to quote a hadith by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) regarding animals’ rights.
The petitioner’s counsel argued that the mortality rate of animals in the zoo was quite high and pleaded that the court to order to shift the crocodile to its natural habitat in Balochistan.
Bilal tried to argue that the zoo had better facilities than any other zoo in the country. However, the petitioner’s lawyers responded by pointing out that there was no veterinary hospital in the zoo.
IMC’s counsel went on to admit that zoos in the country were far below international standard. To this, CJ Minallah remarked that it was a point of concern. He added that no one reserved the right to keep animals in pain and suffering.
CJ Minallah remarked that the director of the zoo and Islamabad’s mayor were responsible for the appalling condition of animals in the zoo.
In the order issued by the court after Tuesday’s proceedings ended, it stated that the conditions in which the crocodile — which is a non-exhibit animal — was kept in the zoo was alarming.
“The report submitted by the expert appointed by this court as amicus recommends taking urgent steps otherwise the crocodile may not survive,” the court noted.
The court directed the Climate Change Ministry to hold a meeting with representatives of WWF-Pakistan, IWMB and the Marghzar Zoo director within three days and take such actions as may be necessary to prevent further harm to the crocodile.
The climate change ministry secretary was told submit a report before the next hearing fixed for June 29.
Separating east and west courts
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday sought a report from the interior ministry on a petition seeking to separate the East and West district courts in the federal capital.
This was directed by an IHC bench, led by CJ Minallah. During Tuesday’s hearing of the case, the government’s lawyer said that they were determining the authorities who were responsible for delays in shifting buildings in district courts.
CJ Minallah replied that a contempt notice should be issued against the Islamabad deputy commissioner (DC) for not acting upon the court’s orders.
The court further noted that district courts should be shifted to a better place while directing the DC to meet with the presidents of the district bar to resolve the issue. The court said that there should be a model court system for residents of the federal capital and adjourned the hearing till September 18.