IHC asks govt to fix responsibility for mistreatment of lions in Islamabad

Published August 5, 2020
Court told officials booked for shifting lions to farmhouse instead of sanctuary. — AFP/File
Court told officials booked for shifting lions to farmhouse instead of sanctuary. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday asked the relevant authorities to identify those responsible for the mistreatment of two lions that were moved from Islamabad’s Marghazar Zoo, resulting in their death.

Officials from the Ministry of Climate Change told the court earlier that an FIR had been lodged against unknown officials who were involved in relocating the lion and lioness from the zoo to a farmhouse instead of a sanctuary as the IHC had directed.

The methods the officials used to move the lions left them seriously injured and they later died.

The court had ordered the officials to move animals from the Islamabad zoo to various sanctuaries within and outside the country.

Court told officials booked for shifting lions to farmhouse instead of sanctuary

Chief Justice Athar Minallah pointed out that members of the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) were also responsible for the safe relocation of the zoo animals but they failed to fulfil their responsibilities.

Justice Minallah added that the FIR should not only be lodged against the unknown officials, and the role of each member of the board should be examined.

Officials from the climate change ministry also told the court that the zoo’s lone elephant, Kaavan, would be moved to Cambodia.

During a hearing in this case on Monday, the IHC decided it would proceed against Minister of State for Climate Change Zartaj Gul, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam, the climate change secretary and officials from the IWMB for violating a court order regarding the relocation of the zoo animals.

The court was told that the lion and lioness died because of negligence as they were being moved to a private farmhouse and not a sanctuary, which was what the IHC had directed.

“This court had directed relocation of the caged animals to sanctuaries and not to a private farmhouse,” Justice Minallah said.

He added: “This court intends to proceed against the chairman and each member of the IWMB under the Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003.”

In a statement, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Pakistan also condemned the mistreatment of the lions at the zoo and expressed “grave” concerns over videos circulating on social media.

The lions were eight years old and had been brought to the zoo in 2016 from the Lahore Safari Park as part of the Bird and Animal Exchange Programme between the Capital Development Authority and the Punjab government.

Published in Dawn, August 5th, 2020

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