Karachi: Suspected wildlife traffickers yet to be punished
KARACHI: Despite advice by the federal government, the Sindh Wildlife Department has taken no punitive action against the influential wildlife traffickers who illegally brought tigers and lions into the country last year, it has been learnt reliably.
According to sources, the SWD was dilly-dallying on the matter in the hope that with the passage of time the issue would be buried with other such pending matters and the traffickers would escape the punitive action, though whenever asked the official concerned insisted that “the matter is being investigated.”
The sources said that by pushing this serious issue of wildlife trafficking under the rug, the SWD was in fact encouraging other illegal traders to continue the smuggling of animals of endangered species and no action would be taken against them.
The sources said that one of the contraband consignments of endangered species animals – comprising six lions — originated from South Africa and landed at Quaid-i-Azam International Airport in the first week of September.
The suspected wildlife trafficker – A. W. Brothers – had brought in the contraband consignment for Psittacines Avicultural Research Centre, a name that suggests that the centre is involved in research on birds rather than mammalian species.
The sources said that another illegal consignment of nine big cats – five Royal Bengal Tigers (three males and two females) and four lions (two males and two females) – were brought in by the Osaka Traders Zoological Supplies from Czech Republic through the Quaid-i-Azam International Airport in June last year.
No concrete punitive action has been taken against the suspects.
The third illegal consignment – comprising five cats — came from Czech Republic and was brought into the country by the 3-B Enterprizes (Block 18, F. B. Area) and it landed at Quaid-i-Azam International Airport in May 2007.
The SWD department was also not aware of the big cats – three Bengal tigers and two lions — making their illegal entry into the country.
After the publication of news reports on the subject, the departmental officials concerned said that they would look into the matter.
Under the procedure, permission from the federal government’s National Council for Conservation of Wildlife and the Sindh Wildlife Department is required to bring animals of endangered species into the country. But the wildlife traffickers had not bothered to get these mandatory permissions either from the NCCW or the SWD. And both of these government bodies were caught napping while the animals were being brought in.
Answering questions, NCCW officials said they had advised the SWD over a month back to take punitive action against the wildlife traffickers and submit a report regarding the disposal of the cases. But no report had been submitted to the federal government, the official speaking from the capital told Dawn.
SWD conservator Ghulam Rasool Channa said FORs – first offence report, the SWD’s equivalent to police FIRs – had been registered against the culprits and investigations were under way, and as soon as these were completed, action would be taken against the culprits.
The sources said the SWD conservator had assured the federal government a couple of months back when one of the traffickers had once again brought in the illegal consignment without getting the mandatory permissions, that the cases against the wildlife traffickers would be finalized in a couple of weeks, but even after the passage of over a couple of months the cases have not been finalized.
The sources said that earlier the customs used to clear the wildlife consignments but after the publication of the news reports about the wildlife smuggling, customs staff had become cautious and had started to ask the “importers” to get permissions from the NCCW and the SWD before allowing the animals to enter the country. After the awakening of the customs officials, they have stopped at least two consignments – one of birds and the other of big cats – and these were released after the “importers” obtained the mandatory permissions from the federal and provincial wildlife authorities.
The sources said that the wildlife trafficking had also brought a bad name to the country in the international community as South Africa had approached the Pakistan government and demanded that its animals, which had been illegally brought in, be returned to it.
The sources said that unless stern action – like confiscation of illegally imported animals with imposition of fines and prison sentences — were taken against the wildlife traffickers, the menace of trafficking could not be checked effectively.
The complete article can be found at Dawn News.