KARACHI, June 9: The Federal Investigation Agency in Karachi is completing its investigation into the alleged smuggling of wild animals into Pakistan though there has been no input from the Karachi Municipal Corporation, which is running facilities for captive wild animals in the city, sources told Dawn on Saturday.
They said the KMC administrator had not yet responded to the FIA’s letter and reminders sent twice on the subject.
KMC administrator Mohammad Hussain Syed was not available for comments.
The FIA probe was initiated on a request by Interpol, which had been approached by the Tanzanian government. Subsequently, the FIA, Karachi, had written a letter to the heads of the Karachi Zoological Gardens and Safari Park more than two months ago.
The letter, with the subject ‘Investigation of unlawful exportation of government trophies’, stated that the National Central Bureau (the local arm of Interpol), Interpol and the FIA, Islamabad, had asked for the provision of complete information about import of wild animals by Irfan Ahmed, proprietor of Osaka Traders Ltd, Karachi, as the company was alleged to have smuggled several wild animals from Tanzania into Pakistan.
The sources said the relevant heads of the government-run facilities for keeping wild animals had also been asked to submit a detailed report with supporting documents stating whether the wild animals were at the Karachi zoo and Safari Park.
The information required by Interpol included details about the credentials of Mr Ahmed.
According to sources, the zoo director replied to the FIA letter saying that the zoo never had an official agreement with Osaka Traders whereas the lions brought by the company were the property of Sindh wildlife department. Regarding the four elephants, the director stated that they were bought by the Safari Park.
The Safari Park director had forwarded the matter to the KMC administrator.
The FIA, according to a source, had contacted different departments, including the customs and Sindh wildlife department, and it was confirmed that Irfan Ahmed was a Pakistani animal importer. Officials had also relied on the information that had appeared in the press.
Four elephants and as many lions housed in the zoo and Safari Park had been ‘imported’ by Osaka Traders. The elephants reportedly arrived from Tanzania in 2009 under an agreement with the defunct city district government of Karachi (CDGK), while the lions were confiscated at Karachi airport by the customs in 2010 as the animals were allegedly brought in on an expired permit.
The lions, which arrived from Germany, first landed at Islamabad airport and then at Karachi. The customs after an investigation found both the ‘importer’ and the national flag carrier guilty and imposed penalties on them while the animals were declared a government property and kept at the zoo as the wildlife department had no facility to keep wild animals.
The company, however, challenged the verdict and a case has been pending trial for the past many months.
About the elephants, it was reported in the media that the CDGK had awarded a contract for two Asian elephants at Rs99.99 million each — though it eventually bought four of them — and changed the species from Asian to African at the behest of the contractor in violation of the Sindh Public Procurement Rules, which say no changes can be made after a contract has been awarded and if a change has to be done, it should be re-advertised.
Besides, there were reports that the Tanzanian government had gifted the elephants for the children of Karachi.
The local government minister, though, had cleared the city government of any misconduct in January.