Islamabad: The government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) is set to face the Peshawar High Court’s (PHC) displeasure and questions in recent deaths of a Bengal tigress, a rare and endangered breed of big cats, a giraffe and several other animals due to negligence of the staff and poor conditions of the zoo.
Earlier this month the court had sought a detailed report from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government about different issues related to the Peshawar Zoo, including death of animals, miserable conditions in which they are being kept and the educational qualifications of staff members, particularly the vets.
Zoo or slaughterhouse?
While hearing a plea filed by some 24 petitioners, mostly animal rights activists and members of society, including Dr Ali Jan, Dr Adil Zareef, Jahan Mahmud Aurangzeb, Rukhsana Kuli Khan Khattak, Farzana Khan Wasim and others, a two-member bench of the PHC comprising Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan and Justice Ijaz Anwar Khan of the PHC expressed displeasure at the poor state of affairs in Peshawar Zoo and wondered how the zoo could be run in a makeshift manner.
Justice Qaiser Rashid expressed annoyance at the poor care of animals in the zoo and even asked if the place was a zoo or a slaughterhouse.
The bench has fixed the matter for detailed hearing on Thursday, October 22. Meanwhile, death of a Bengali tigress on Tuesday, October 13 has also added to the worries of the zoo officials and they are most likely to give an explanation in that matter too.
In their petitions, the petitioners have requested the court to order relocation of the animals, which are not suited to the environment of Peshawar, to their natural habitats or suitable sanctuaries, and immediate shifting from the zoo.
While talking to Gulf News today, a few petitioners in the case said the court has been requested to fix responsibility for negligence in the zoo, which led to the death of various animals in the recent months.
In Islamabad we have seen the high court’s chief justice’s directions to the Ministry of Climate Change (MCC) to relocate Kaavan, the only Asian elephant in Pakistan and two bears to the international sanctuaries, said the petitioners. We want similar directions from the court, they said.
The petitioners said there should be a ban on shifting of animals to the zoo, particularly those which are not suited to the climate of Peshawar.
Bengal tigress, the ‘rarest’ species
According to a zoo official, the Bengal tigress succumbed to injuries inflicted by her male inmate. The zoo vets treated her but it was too severe to be recovered. She was one of the rarest species the Peshawar zoo took pride in.
Since this is the mating season for tigers and they usually go violent in this season and assault their mates around this time of the year, said he.
Immediately after the incident was reported in the media the Wildlife minister Mohammad Ishtiaq Urmar ordered an inquiry and called a meeting of the zoo management and veterinarian to look into the cause of the death.
Earlier, in May this year, a three-year-old giraffe had died of a viral disease in the zoo. The zoo is being called a death zone for the animals as it has lost a snow leopard – a threatened species in the past.