BAHAWALPUR: There is a strong possibility of rift among the local zoo employees and consequent negligence which led to the loss of seven spotted deer in captivity here last month.

Sources told Dawn that one of the inquiry committees had submitted its report to Punjab Wildlife Secretary Nasir Mahmood. The committee was constituted by Wildlife Deputy Director Rai Zahid Ali after the mortality of seven deer. It was headed by Dr Sohail Azmat and comprised assistant director wildlife, Bahawalnagar and a veterinarian of Rahim Yar Khan district. Later, Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar also took notice of the incident. Punjab Minister for Wildlife Samsam Bokhari also constituted a high-level committee led by the Lahore Zoo director to probe the loss of precious deer.

The authorities asked Dr Sohail Azmat to continue the inquiry and he has now submitted his report to the Punjab wildlife secretary.

Dr Azmat confirmed to Dawn that he had submitted the report to the wildlife secretary but declined to divulge the details.

The report, say sources, points out flaws in the administrative affairs of the zoo which is without a permanent curator for the last many months and the officials are allegedly having rift over various issues. Moreover, most employees have been posted here for about 30 years due to which many wrongdoings have cropped up here in the discharge of their duties.

The report also points out the negligence of the staff members including curator Ibrar Ahmed and veterinarian Tariq.

Mr Ahmed had earlier told Dawn that he immediately reached the enclosure of the deer after the incident to render medical aid and managed to save 22 deer.

Dr Azmat says the possibility of poisoning of the fodder served to the deer cannot be ruled but this could only be confirmed by the forensic lab’s result.

As regards the report of the second high-level inquiry committee headed by the Lahore Zoo director, the officials have yet to share their findings.

Published in Dawn, January 7th, 2021

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