LAHORE: Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah of the Lahore High Court has constituted a commission to investigate issues raised in a petition filed by actress Faryal Gohar seeking protection for wildlife. The commission will submit a detailed report along with recommendations regarding the compliance of laws pertaining to wildlife by September 19.
Brigadier (r) Mukhtar Ahmad will be the chairman. The ToRs of the commission are:
(i) To evaluate existing practices and examine procedures adopted by concerned federal and provincial government agencies relating to issuance of import permits for bringing wild exotic and other globally endangered species in Pakistan.
(ii) To assess the level of compliance with requirements and conditions laid down in the Pakistan Trade Control of Wild Flora and Fauna Act, 2012.
(iii) To determine the annual scale of such imports of wild exotic species.
(iv) To determine what are the general conditions in which the big cats are being housed by private individuals?
(v) If the Punjab government takes the position that exotic big cats do not fall within purview of the Punjab Wildlife Act, 1974, then under what power are these big cats being housed at the Wildlife Breeding Farms under the Wildlife Breeding Farms Rules, 2008, flowing from the Punjab Wildlife Act, 1974?
(vi) How and to what extent is the Punjab government ensuring that big cats are not being kept by private individuals in their homes or on private property other than a licensed facility?
(vii) What actions, if any, has the local government in Lahore taken to curb the practice of exhibitions of big cats in public places?
(viii) What mechanisms could be put in place or what guidelines could be followed, moving forward, to ensure the well-being of big cats in Pakistan and ensure public safety?
(ix) To analyse the type, manner and frequency of inspections, if at all, carried out by relevant state functionaries to facilities and breeding farms that house big cats and other exotic species, and generally evaluate the level of adherence of owners to licensing requirements.
(x) To propose restrictions to be imposed upon owners of private wildlife breeding farms to allow use of any wild animal for displaying as a political/ social symbol.
(xi) To carry out visits to the selective breeding farms or facilities, if need arises, to observe the keeping and overall conditions in which the big felids and other exotic animals are housed.
(xii) To fully take into account all ‘uses’ of exotic species, in particular big felids for purpose other than breeding or licensing requirements.
(xiii) To facilitate profiling of all such individuals keeping exotic wild felids at homes or other private property other than a licensed facility.
(xiv) To evaluate the public safety role of local government if any exotic wild felid is openly exhibited and paraded at on open place.
(xv) To call, receive and evaluate proposals, suggestions and opinions from local and international professionals, specialised firms and public at large in regards to the improvement of care and custody of wild exotic and endangered species, and other animals in possession of private individuals.
(xvi) Call upon expert(s) or competent official(s) to meaningfully examine the existing state of affairs of exotic and other wild animals in private possessions and propose a viable prognosis to the court in regards to issues at hand.
(xvii) To formulate a Code of Conduct for political parties and candidates to be adopted by ECP that display of any wild animal as electoral symbol will be prohibited during election.
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