LAHORE: In a bid to make Lahore Zoo more secure and safe for visitors, its much-awaited security plan has been completed. For the first time, zoo authorities have installed state-of-the-art night vision cameras within the vicinity of the zoo for greater vigilance.
Earlier, some thirty-two ordinary CCTV cameras were installed in the zoo which have now been replaced by 64, four-megapixel cameras, while there are six PTZ cameras which are capable of remote directional and zoom control.
With the new installation, every nook and corner of the zoo will be monitored while both the entrances – Mall Road and Laurence Road – will also be strictly supervised.
Along with the cameras, four 56-inch-wide screens have also been placed in the monitoring room of the zoo for better surveillance. Footage obtained by the newly-installed cameras throughout the zoo can be viewed on three of the screens while one screen is reserved for viewing enlarged images.
CCTV camera operator, Azmat Ali, monitors these screens throughout the day and all seven days of the week. He also changes the movements of several cameras.
“Through the installation of the new, sophisticated cameras, strict surveillance of the incoming visitors can now be maintained,” Azmat told The Express Tribune. “Youngsters caught harassing women or families will also be under the surveillance of the cameras.”
Azmat Ali explained that the cameras have proved to be useful in catching pickpockets as well. Similarly, it gets easier to search for children who often get separated from their families because of the crowd.
“We also keep an eye on children who try to get very close to the enclosures of dangerous animals or if someone tries to feed human food to animals and birds.”
Sharing an incident, Azmat Ali said that a few days ago, two groups of pickpockets had been identified with the help of the surveillance cameras. Members of these groups, who are often women and children, frequently visited different locations throughout the zoo and would steal expensive mobile phones, purses and wallets. The culprits were caught red-handed and after recovering the stolen items from them, they were handed over to the police.
“The entry routes are heavily monitored during crowded days. No one is allowed to enter the premises of the zoo without passing through security scanners,” Azmat said.
“A person carrying a bag or a shopping bag is specifically checked. If any suspicious activity is detected, the control room promptly informs the security staff to take necessary measures.”
According to the administration of Lahore Zoo, there is no hiding from these cameras. In the past, some people misused the facility for various activities but now, with the installation of the cameras, there is no way out for them.
Speaking on the matter, Director Lahore Zoo Ali Sukhera explained that the zoo is in the middle of the city, therefore, it a challenge to maintain its safety and security.
Ali Sukhera also said that these cameras will also monitor workers’ performance and how they take care of the animals.
“Our ticket counter, snake house, lion house, tiger house, store, canteen, areas around different animals, and rides are all monitored. More than that, we can monitor the roads on both sides of the zoo,” he explained.
Sukhera also unveiled the future plan and said that the zoo will soon install cameras in the parking area as well, which will automatically read the number plate of cars.
“We also plan to install facial-recognition cameras and recording of these cameras will be preserved for one month. If need be, we will preserve the obtained footage for a longer period.”
The enhanced security measures at the zoo are also seen as a welcome change by visitors.
Zainab, a woman visiting the zoo with her family told The Express Tribune that she is happy to see the new security measure at the zoo. “It’s a good change because now eve-teasers and pickpockets will be promptly caught,” she said. Rana Mubasshir, another visitor, said that many past incidents, like theft or harassment, scared people off and they stop visiting the zoo.
“Now, with the advanced security measures in place, people will be able to visit the zoo fearlessly and enjoy quality time with their families.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 10th, 2019.