LAHORE: An increase in the global illegal trade of South African animals has resulted in a five-month delay in importing exotic creatures for Lahore Zoo.

Reportedly, elephants, chimpanzees, sea horses and a rhino were supposed to be imported from South Africa for Lahore Zoo. However, so far the South African government has not issued a no objection certificate (NOC) nor have they granted a CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) permit due to global rise in the illegal trade of animals.

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Wildlife officials said that during the past year, approximately 80 Asian elephants and 100 young African elephants were illegally imported by China. Once they were brought to the country, the animals were slaughtered and gutted to make medicines and food. Similarly, rhinos and chimpanzees are also under threat.

Non-government organisations (NGOs) in South Africa, working towards protecting animals, have in turn pressurised the government to exercise greater care. This has resulted in the South African government being hesitant to issue NOCs for the legal trade and export of animals

CITES rules and regulations stipulate a blanket ban on buying and selling Asian elephants. On the other hand, African elephants can be imported and exported in order to sustain the species.

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Previously in April, the Lahore Zoo administration issued a work permit for importing one elephant, a pair of chimpanzees, male sea horses and a female rhinoceros. Contractors were given a three-month deadline to import the animals.

While giraffes and other animals were imported, elephants, chimpanzees, sea horses and rhinoceroses have not yet been brought to the zoo.

The deadline for importing the animals expired in July; however, the contractors entrusted with procuring the animals have managed to extend the deadline until December with help from the zoo’s administration. The Lahore Zoo director has confirmed this development.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 29th, 2018.