• Varsity distances itself from ‘pet show’, forms three-member body
• Law prohibits display, handling of wildlife by private persons

 A visitor holds a pair of juvenile marsh crocodiles; and an eagle on public display at a ‘pet show’ organised at KU over the weekend.—Online
A visitor holds a pair of juvenile marsh crocodiles; and an eagle on public display at a ‘pet show’ organised at KU over the weekend.—Online

KARACHI: Several endangered wild animals, apparently illegally caught from their habitats, were on public display at a ‘pet show’ recently organised on Karachi University campus, it emerged on Monday.

Sources said the species on display at the pet show held last week included juvenile marsh crocodiles, eagles and black spotted (freshwater) turtles — all protected under the provincial wildlife law that imposes fine and calls for criminal proceedings against those involved in trapping wild animals and/or have possession of these species.

It’s the second time, they said, within two weeks that wildlife species were on public display against the law at KU. Earlier, snakes and eagles were on display at a ‘poultry show’ organised by the university’s physiology department.

A KU official told Dawn, on the condition of anonymity, that the pet show was organised by a university employee and the son of a retired KU official after getting official permission.

“But, they neither shared information about the specific animals to be displayed at the show nor the university sought details about the programme” he said.

When contacted, officials representing the KU administration said the vice chancellor had taken notice of the matter.

“We have set up a three-member committee comprising Prof Faiyaz Vaid, Prof Farah Iqbal and Dr Syed Asim Ali to look into the issue,” he said, adding that the notification on the committee would be issued tomorrow.

Sindh Wildlife Conservator Javed Ahmed Mahar expressed dismay over exhibition of wild animals and, that too, at an academic institution, emphasising that display and handling of wildlife in the name of awareness by any private person was barred under the law.

“Yes, we have received reports about these shows and soon would be writing a strong-worded letter to the KU in this respect,” he said, adding that only photographic presentations of wildlife were allowed.

Institutions, especially academic institutions, Mr Mahar stated, were supposed to create awareness about the role flora and fauna played in the environment, conservation of their habitats, as well as animal rights and related local laws, instead of promoting illegal activities.

“I can confidently say that species, such as crocodiles, freshwater turtles and eagles, which were put on display at KU, were caught from their habitats as breeding and rearing these species in captivity is a complicated and scientific task.

“Besides, these three species are carnivores. The law prohibits possession of carnivores while breeding facilities of herbivores (farm animals not included) now require official permission,” he said.

According to wildlife officials, the department will soon get an advert printed in leading newspapers calling upon people to declare wild species in their possession within a specific time to avoid legal action.

Published in Dawn, February 28th, 2023

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