KARACHI, Aug 29: The federal government has banned the import of tigers, lions and other big cat species.
According to highly placed sources, earlier, the federal government, following regular incidents of smuggling of big cats by certain wildlife traffickers, which were exposed by the media while the official regulators either remained unaware or were hand in glove with the traffickers, had refused to entertain any requests for permission from these traffickers for the import of big cats till their cases were disposed of.
The sources said that later, the federal government reviewed its earlier decision and imposed a blanket ban on issuance of import permits of big cats till proper rules were formulated and guidelines were laid down for the import of big cats.
They said the government had also imposed a ban on the export of the common parrot and rose-ringed parakeet, which are being exported from the country for a long time, as the government had reports that some unscrupulous exporters were in fact exporting the rare Alexandrian species parakeet under the garb of common parrots.
They said the government was also considering reviewing the registration fees that are imposed on wildlife exporters and to introduce similar registration fees on wildlife importers also.
The sources said that the media, a few months back, had exposed four – one after the other – wildlife trafficking cases in which the big cats had been smuggled in from some African and European countries by air and the animals had entered the country through the Quaid-i-Azam International Airport in the city.
After the media reports, which were followed by directives from the federal government’s National Council for Conservation of Wildlife (NCCW), the Sindh Wildlife Department (SWD) started investigations into the cases and in two of the cases – pertaining to the same Defence Housing Authority-based wildlife trafficker – fines were recovered and the remaining two cases – pertaining to two different companies which were in fact operated by the same wildlife trafficker from a Federal B Area office – were sent to court, which are pending. However, none of the illegally imported carnivorous animals were confiscated.
Responding to Dawn queries at that time (Aug 10), the Sindh Wildlife conservator Ghulam Rasool Channa said that all four cases had been disposed of and the report regarding the disposal of the cases had been sent to the Islamabad-based NCCW, which had been asking the SWD to expedite the disposal of the cases and send a report to it.
Responding to Dawn’s queries – after the publication of the news report on Aug 12 relating to the disposal of the cases – an NCCW official said that though the council had asked the SWD to inform it regarding the disposal of the cases, the wildlife department had not yet informed the NCCW and it only came to know about the disposal of the cases through the media.
The NCCW has again approached the SWD to send the report regarding the disposal of these cases, as “according to the NCCW, these cases were still pending as the SWD has not sent the report regarding the disposal.”