KARACHI: The customs handed over 31 “imported” highly rare and endangered species of pythons to the Karachi Zoological Gardens on Sunday.
The pythons caught a few days ago were given to zoo officials for safe keeping till the issue of their ‘import’ was resolved in next few days, said a customs official. The pythons handed over by airport customs chief Yaqoob Mako to KMC chief Mohammad Hussain Syed were shifted to the Reptile House in the zoo and put on display.
A large number of wildlife lovers visited the zoo to see the new inmates at the facility. Officials said that the Sindh wildlife department (SWD) representatives were not present at the airport on Sunday and the pythons were directly handed over to the KMC officials — a procedure that was opposed by the SWD, as well as the zoo chief on Saturday.
The interdepartmental miscommunication had prolonged the stay of the reptiles at the airport’s inhospitable environment.
The consignment included one Python curtus, three Boa constrictors, 14 Python regius and 13 Python reticulatus. Two of the pythons are adults — one is 17 feet long and the other 12 feet long — while the rest are young ones.
Responding to Dawn queries, customs official Rana Aftab said the python consignment was brought in from the US through the Flight No CX 703 and arrived at the Jinnah International Airport on Monday (Feb 11).
The “importer”, Sam Farms, could not present any of the mandatory documents, including the quarantine certificate, a no-objection certificate from the National Council for Conservation of Wildlife of the ministry of Climate Change, etc, regarding the import of the pythons.
The firm had been given time to arrange these documents, but it could not do so over past few days, the official added.
He said that as the customs did not have any facilities to keep pythons and provide them with healthy environment, therefore, after an initial stay of a few days at the airport, the SWD and the zoo officials were called in so that the pythons were handed over to them till the matter was decided.
If all the required documents were arranged, then the issue would be settled. However, if they failed, the consignment would be confiscated and, probably, gifted to the zoo, the official added.
Responding to Dawn queries on Saturday, zoo chief Bashir Sadozai said he had gone to the airport where the customs officials said that they wanted to hand him over the pythons for safe keeping.
He said he had refused to accept the pythons directly as till now the procedure had been that the customs would hand over the confiscated animals to the SWD, which would hand them over to zoo officials for safe keeping.
He said that he had requested the customs to hand over the pythons to the SWD so that he could receive the pythons from them, but the customs staffers were not agreeing to this procedure. So he had refused, he added.
Responding to Dawn queries on Saturday, SWD chief Hussain Bux Bhaagat said that the customs had informed the SWD regarding the pythons and he had sent his team to the airport. But the SWD team was kept there waiting for hours on Saturday and the pythons were not given to it so eventually they returned, he added.
He said it was the procedure that had been followed for the past many years.
The KMC chief said that these pythons had remained in boxes for the past many days and the first priority was to protect them and that all the rules and regulations regarding their shifting would be met later.