LAHORE: Alarmed by the reported drop of 40 per cent in female animal population, the Punjab has decided to “reinvigorate” ban on its slaughtering, and ordered arrests and heavy fines for the violators throughout the province.
“We have formed district committees, took butchers’ and commission agents’ associations on board and contacted individual owners through short messaging service (SMS) to ensure that no female animal is slaughtered in Punjab,” says Nasim Saddiq, provincial livestock secretary.
He said there was no need for fresh notification because the Animal Slaughtering Act of 1963 explicitly prohibits female slaughtering. The government just had to enforce the Act and it involved district administration in the process to ensure strict compliance, he added.
“The province has conducted three surveys in the last one year and has documentary evidence of the exceptional decline in (female animal) population,” he said.
Federal livestock figures just ‘guesstimates’
Disputing the federal figures that Pakistan had fourth largest buffalo population and third largest meat producer, he said the province was left with only one-third of reported population of animals. Even quite young animals having low weight (six to eight kilograms) had been exported from the country, he added, saying the country had reached a stage where it was now planning to import of animals.
“This is SoS situation, prompting the Punjab government to move immediately and ban all female animals’ slaughtering.”
Explaining the discrepancy between reported and actual situation, he said that according to official record, four tribal union councils of Dera Ghazi Khan district had 2.4 million animals, whereas actually they had only 0.45 million. This is the kind of disconnect between the reports and ground realities. “No federal agency has ever contacted Punjab for surveys or headcount,” he claimed and added that most of federal figures were guesstimates, prepared by officials sitting in their offices. The ground reality had changed completely, he stressed.
He said Punjab government had conducted surveys in all the 36 districts of the province in the last one year, reached 2.6 million farming families and has reached the conclusion that such re-invigoration of the ban was overdue, as even in its 2002 survey had disputed central figures and asked for banning of female slaughtering.
He said had the ban not been imposed now, the province could have lost its remaining stocks quickly along with the genetic heritage of thousands of years. Once the stock was lost, it was hard to reclaim the gene pool and only imports could help then, he added. So, the Punjab has “just pushed the refresh button of ban on female slaughtering so that it could save the situation,” he insisted.
“It is because of a similar situation, Sindh has already started importing animals and Baluchistan and the Khyber Pakhtunkhawa were on the verge. Pakistan’s case is not unique. Turkey faced a similar situation some 12 years ago and Iran nine years ago. They did not act in time and are now importing animals. Pakistan is on the same track and the situation must be improved before it is too late for everyone. Punjab has moved with the same spirit and hopes to recover from this shock in the next few years and planned livestock financial modeling and export regime afresh. Until then, the ban has to be observed strictly, with all resources (political and administrative) at disposal,” he concluded.
Published in Dawn, August 11th, 2015