KARACHI: A number of animals protected under the provincial wildlife law have been on display for ‘public entertainment’ at a family festival in Gulistan-i-Jauhar for the past two weeks, it emerged on Wednesday.

Located near Jauhar Chowrangi, the festival held in an open ground also features joyrides and different fun activities for children.

Locked up in small cages, the animals were found to be in a pathetic state during a visit to the festival venue.

The ‘protected’ species at the festival included a jackal, a fox, a pair of mongoose, a pair of monkeys, a pair of porcupine, a fishing cat, an injured hyena and a python. The other animals were: a pair of Persian cats, parrots, rabbits, rats and pigeons.

Speaking to Dawn, organisers of the animal show claimed that they had an official permit to keep the animals.

“The licence is in the name of my father who pays an annual fee of Rs12,000 to the wildlife department in Saddar,” said Imran, part of the team conducting the show, adding that it’s their family business that they had been doing for generations in Punjab and Sindh.

Animals, he said, had been purchased from different parties.

Upon contact, wildlife department conservator Saeed Baloch expressed concern over exhibition of ‘protected’ species at the festival and said that his department would take action against those involved in the offence.

“The department gives permits only for mini zoos and game farms but the animals allowed to be kept at these facilities included only deer and some bird species,” he said, adding that species of jackal, fox, mongoose, monkeys, porcupine, hyena, python and fishing cat were indigenous species of Sindh and were protected under the provincial wildlife ordinance of 1972.

Once found in significant numbers, populations of fishing cat and hyena had greatly decreased over the years owing to multiple factors, including habitat degradation, and now these two species were ‘endangered’.

He said that the implementation of the wildlife law should be looked as a shared responsibility by all government departments.

“It is not possible for us to keep an eye on every illegal activity. Other departments should also demonstrate responsibility and help us in implementing the law. The show organisers should have ensured that these people have proper permits for keeping animals,” he said.

According to District Municipal Corporation East administrator Rehmatullah Sheikh the area fell in the jurisdiction of the Faisal Cantonment Board.

“We haven’t given any permission for the show as that location is not in the DMC-East’s jurisdiction and is part of the Faisal Cantonment Board,” he said.

No official of the relevant cantonment board was available for comments.

Published in Dawn, December 31st, 2015

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