RAWALPINDI: The 53 recovered falcons being kept at the Lahore Zoo will not be returned to their ‘owner’. The Lahore High Court (LHC) Rawalpindi Bench Justice Shahid Hameed Dar on Tuesday suspended the order of an Additional Session Judge, where he approved the handover of the 53 falcons to applicant Syed Mazhar Ali Shah.
“These falcons would remain encaged at the Lahore Zoo while Mazhar Ali Shah has the freedom to feed these birds,” Dar said in his remarks.
The Siberian falcons were recovered at Benazir Bhutto International Airport on October 14 while enroute to Qatar. The person accompanying them managed to get away.
Wildlife Department Punjab took the birds into their possession, as per the Punjab Wildlife Act of 1974.
The officials of Lohi Bhair Park alleged that Mazhar Ali Shah was illegally exporting these falcons from Pakistan. They said Shah had approached them to claim the birds. He was arrested.
Shah filed petition in court that he went to the wildlife officials on directions of Sheikh Hamid Bin Jasim of Qatar. In his petition, Shah denied ownership of the falcons. The court, however, dismissed his application and directed the wildlife officials to send the falcons to the Lahore Zoo.
Then on October 19, Shah filed another application before a court claiming to be an authorised agent of Sheikh Hamid. Shah said he had the proper authorisation to export the falcons. Again, the court dismissed his petition.
Shah approached an additional session judge for the third time on October 28. This time his petition was approved and the judge ordered the wildlife officials to hand the falcons over to Shah.
However, Syed Arshad Hussain, a wildlife inspector at Lohi Bahir Park District Rawalpindi, approached the Rawalpindi Bench of LHC and got the order suspended.
Published in The Express Tribune November 3rd, 2010.