Lahore High Court’s (LHC) Justice Jawad Hassan has constituted a committee to minutely examine and underline loopholes in specific laws which allow keeping wild animals at homes.
The judge was hearing a petition filed by the daughter of the country’s top judge, challenging Section 12 of the Punjab Wildlife (Protection, Preservation, Conservation and Management) Act 1974 through which wild animals are being deprived of their natural habitats and have been kept in confined spaces for entertainment.
The secretary for wildlife will head the committee, Justice Jawad directed, adding that the court will issue directions for amendments to the specific law if the need was felt.
During the proceedings, a wildlife officer told the court that no one is issued a licence to keep wild animals at home under the Wildlife Act.
The official said the licences were issued only for those animals that could easily be looked after at homes.
Petitioners Sanita Gulzar and Syed Muhammad Ghazenfur filed the petition, citing as respondents the provincial government, wildlife department through its secretary, WWF Pakistan through its president and the federation through the ministry of climate change.
The petitioners stated that as a consequence of the section, wild animals have been unnecessarily deprived of their natural habitats and have been kept in confined spaces for mere entertainment of humans with little to zero supervision from the authorities concerned. They highlighted that the wild animals are often tortured, ill-treated, deprived of food, mishandled, drugged, agitated and exposed to worst living conditions, which is detrimental for their mental and physical well-being.
According to the petition, Punjab has more than 200 breeding farms across its area and more than 20 of them specialise in breeding exotic tigers and other big cats. Over the past five years, Pakistan has imported more than 85 big cats that include pumas, tigers, lions and leopards. Out of the total, 15 ended up as trophies for hunters.
Two lions had died while being transferred to a private farm by unprofessional caretakers, the petitioners stated.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 11th, 2021.