Investigation into four big cats’ import sought
KARACHI, July 18: The National Council for Conservation of Wildlife (NCCW) has asked the Sindh wildlife department to initiate an inquiry into the credentials of the contractor who recently imported four big cats for the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC), it emerged on Wednesday.
According to sources, the federally-administered NCCW, authorised to regulate the import and export of wildlife species into the country, had sent a letter to the provincial secretary of forest and wildlife and the wildlife department with a request that investigations be carried out into the credentials of the KMC contractor who recently brought four big cats to Karachi for the Karachi Zoological Gardens and the Safari Park.
The KMC imported the animals at a cost of Rs17 million through a contractor without acquiring the mandatory import permit from the NCCW.
“The department is in the process of acquiring details requested by the NCCW and the report will be sent to it soon,” said Saeed Akhtar Baloch, currently heading the provincial wildlife department while refusing to confirm or deny the information about an inquiry into the importer’s credentials.
According to the sources, the NCCW had asked the wildlife officials to see whether the Three B Enterprise — the company which imported the big cats and is facing charges of wildlife trafficking in a case — and the Osaka Traders — the company also accused of wildlife trafficking and against which cases were pending in courts — were the same.
The KMC, according to the sources, had forwarded incomplete documents to the NCCW through the wildlife department to acquire an NOC. The documents were returned with a request for an inquiry against the animal supplier.
It was for the first time that the city government authorities had asked for an NOC for animal import instead of forwarding the details of the importer to get an NOC, they said.
Tigers and lions are listed among Appendix 1 and Appendix 2 species in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), an international treaty to which
Pakistan is a signatory and which bans transport of Appendix 1 and Appendix 2 species for commercial purposes.
Commenting on these developments, Uzma Khan, director of biodiversity of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), said a similar incident took place in Lahore a few years ago.
“The Lahore zoo hired a private animal supplier who brought a pair of white tigers from Indonesia, though the deal was finalised by a middleman based in Canada. No import permit was acquired from the NCCW in that case, too. Finally, the customs declared the imported animals as smuggled ones; the NCCW blacklisted the company involved in the import and a few officials of the Lahore zoo were also sacked. The zoo was the beneficiary as it got the animals for free,” she said, adding that it had awarded the contract for Rs7.5 million.
The KMC had given the contract of importing pairs of lions, tigers and hippopotamus this year to the Three B Enterprise against which a case has been pending since 2007, shows the Sindh wildlife department records.
The company, according to the records, was accused of importing two pairs of tigers and three lions on a fake permit and apparently had close association with the Osaka Traders,
another company involved in animal import, against which two cases are pending in courts on similar charges.
The company brought two pairs of Bengal tigers and white lions by Qatar Airways and Thai Airways, respectively, on July 15.
The consignment of Bengal tigers took eight hours to release from the airport because the customs officials were not ready to give clearance without an NOC from the NCCW and it was only after KMC officials gave an undertaking that the NOC would be submitted as soon it was available that the animals were handed over to the officials.
The white lions were imported from South Africa while the tigers from Belgium, according to a KMC official.