ISLAMABAD: A dispute has emerged in the Supreme Court over the import of elephants for a zoological garden in Pakistan PHC.
A group, Mohammad Hanif and Engineer Construction Ltd, approached the Supreme Court (SC) in an appeal against the Peshawar High Court (PHC) order of Sept 17, which dismissed its request for importing plant-eating mammals.
The petitioner, filed by Advocate Niaz Wali Khan, said it had already imported two elephants from Zimbabwe and was covering the cost of their food and care, adding that transporting them to the Peshawar Zoo had been rejected.
The lawyer claimed that during the hearing that the Ministry of Climate Change had told the court that a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) would be given to the applicant in a month’s time, the corporation filed a petition before the PHC in 2019 to import elephants.
When the same was not done, in 2020, the petitioner again moved the high court to enact the promise found in the Feb 4, 2020 high court judgement.
However the appeal was rejected by the high court on the basis that the government had not committed any contempt.
The petition clarified that the plaintiff was a licenced corporation with ample knowledge in exporting and importing numerous animals to various zoos in the world.
The company had applied for the import of samber goats, barking deer, double hump camels, zebra, tiger and elephants to the Peshawar Zoo and engaged in a bidding process.
During the bid, the company was deemed competitive after the responsible authority approved its tariffs in compliance with the requirements given in the tender form.
The petitioner was given a work order by the director of the Peshawar Zoo to ensure the availability of these animals following the completion of codal formalities.
After arranging them locally, the petitioner ensured the availability of certain species, while zebras and tigers had to be imported from Johannesburg (South Africa), for which a suitable No-Objection Certificate (NOC) was given to the corporation by the federal and provincial governments in addition to the Peshawar Zoo.
Later, in search of the right elephants for the zoo, the petitioner toured Uganda, Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
The lawyer said the government of Zimbabwe decided to provide Pakistan with the animals and its officials have visited the site to examine the Peshawar zoo’s climate.
The platform was extensively reviewed by officials of the Zimbabwe Parks Wildlife Department and considered beneficial to elephants, and this detail was also put on the official website of the Government of Zimbabwe, the petition reported.
The petitioner was permitted to move the elephants via the provincial government, subject to obtaining NOC from the federal government, following fulfilment of all formalities as set out by the Zimbabwe government.
The applicant was also given approval by the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) prior to November 6, 2019.
The petition lamented the transportation of the elephants, but the Ministry of Climate Change postponed it without any excuse.
CITES is an international government arrangement to ensure the international trade in wild animal and plant products does not endanger their life.
Subsequently, the company sent an application to the Ministry of Climate Change for the issuance of NOCs for elephant transport. However, without excuse or explanation, it was postponed by the ministry, eventually refusing on the ground that CITES had put a ban by a resolution on Nov 27, 2019.
The petition claimed that the PHC had not disposed of the petition on merit, since the investment of the applicant was negatively impacted by the federal government’s inaction.
The three-judge Supreme Court bench, led by Justice Mushir Alam, released notices to the Ministry of Climate Change, Inspector General Forest, Secretary of Forestry Environment and Wildlife Department Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Chief Conservator of Wildlife KP and Director of Zoo Peshawar after approving the petition for a hearing the other day.
Nevertheless the court asked the lawyer of the company to bear in mind the IHC’s judgement of May 21, 2020 in the Kaavan dispute.
Later, the next hearing date will be fixed.
Earlier last May the Islamabad High Court ordered the removal of Kaavan, an elephant, from the Marghazar Zoo, Islamabad, as the authorities concerned had treated him cruelly.
In 1985, when he was one year old, Kaavan was gifted by Sri Lanka, and Kaavan was kept chained in a small enclosure for more than three decades, with inadequate circumstances sufficient to fulfil the physiological, social and behavioural needs of this remarkable species of living beings.
Due to the sorry condition of the zoo, the IHC had already ordered to move all animals to their sanctuaries. Unfortunately, the last two lions died in July while being moved from Islamabad Zoo to a private lion farm in Lahore.