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Some of the tigers and lions gifted by the UAE to Pakistan.
Some of the tigers and lions gifted by the UAE to Pakistan.

ISLAMABAD: The prime minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has gifted Pakistan 18 big cats, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam said on Wednesday.

Mr Aslam said at a press briefing that the Al Nakhli Wildlife Centre in Dubai, which houses more than 400 big cats, will donate lions, tigers and other animals to various facilities of the Punjab Wildlife and Parks Department.

Among the animals are two male and a female white together between the ages of two and four years, a one-year-old male white tiger, four

male and two female Bengal tigers (common) between the ages of two and four years, and four pairs of African lions between three and five years old, he said, adding that these animals will be housed at the Lahore Zoo.

He said following correspondence with the facility and fulfilling legal requirements, the zoo will receive the animals as a gift from Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid al Maktoum, prime minister of UAE and ruler of Dubai.

The micro-chipped big cats were examined and screened for various diseases by veterinarians at the Al Nakhli centre and found healthy to be transported to Pakistan.

Mr Aslam said inbreeding is a major issue for big cats in Punjab, as the animals kept by the department were crossing with their relatives for years.

He said adverse effects of inbreeding led to higher chances of stillbirths, genetic disorders, low immunity and the tendency to accept different diseases more easily among the captive stock of animals.

“With the new addition of these animals it will be possible to reduce chances of such issues. Better genetics and ultimately better health of big cats will lead to better conservation of these species in Pakistan,” he said.

The meeting was informed that collaboration among international zoos and wildlife centres was important.

“This helps to exchange their experiences, expertise and practices, which prove helpful to improve wildlife centres and fulfil the ultimate cause of conservation of wildlife. Exchange and gifts of zoo exhibits are also a way of collaboration and it helps to improve the variety of species in zoos for education, conservation and recreation in a better way,” he said.

He said this gift was the first step and would prove a corridor to exchange species of zoo animals and birds between Pakistan and Dubai zoos.

Published in Dawn, April 18th, 2019