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ISLAMABAD: Concerned citizens and experts are urging the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to adhere to the Islamabad High Court (IHC) verdict on the Islamabad Zoo. They assert that submitting a summary to the Federal Cabinet for the zoo’s reinstatement would violate the IHC verdict, and such an action should be legally contested.
Critics assert that the CDA’s alleged intention to confine or restrain wild animals again is a severe form of cruelty, especially considering the CDA’s lack of technical and financial capacity to reclaim the land for zoo establishment.
An online discussion on this matter was facilitated by Devcom-Pakistan (Development Communications Network) and DTN on a Saturday afternoon.
Renowned biodiversity expert Z B Mirza emphasized that attempting to deceive the cabinet into making a favorable decision contradicts the IHC verdict, which explicitly calls for ending cruelty to animals and freeing them in their habitats. He deems the CDA’s effort to reestablish the zoo and acquire the land as mischievous and dishonest, warning that biodiversity enthusiasts will not support any unwarranted decision by the CDA Board or the Federal Cabinet.
Another senior biodiversity expert, Dr. Ejaz Ahmed, acknowledged the importance of zoos in education and awareness but pointed out that poor management often leads to the depression and unhygienic conditions of species. He cited past instances of mistreatment of animals like elephants in Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad, emphasizing the need for humane care.
Rina Saeed Khan, Chairperson of the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB), cautioned against reopening the Islamabad zoo without thorough consultation with law and climate change ministries. She highlighted the IWMB’s successful conversion of the site into a wildlife rescue center, rescuing and rehabilitating approximately 381 animals since its inception in 2021. Khan criticized the CDA Board’s decision to reclaim the zoo, stating it goes against the IHC orders.
Environmental activist and Devcom-Pakistan Executive Director Munir Ahmed stressed that the IHC verdict must not be violated, and citizens will protest any such action by the CDA or the Federal Cabinet. He highlighted the CDA’s previous failure in wildlife education and its lack of capacity to run the zoo.
Environmental journalist Afia Salam advocated for wildlife learning centers instead of traditional zoos. She argued that the concept of zoos is outdated, especially considering the dismal conditions of wild animals in many countries, including malnourishment, diseases, and inadequate caregiving.
In conclusion, the collective sentiment expressed by these experts and activists emphasizes the need for respecting the IHC verdict, prioritizing humane treatment of animals, and exploring alternative approaches to wildlife conservation and education.