Zoo struggles to import elephants following ban

Published: September 7, 2019
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Lahore Zoo. 
PHOTO: SHAHBAZ MALIK/EXPRESS

Lahore Zoo. PHOTO: SHAHBAZ MALIK/EXPRESS

LAHORE: The Lahore Zoo is unable to take in new African elephants after the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) admitted a recommendation, proposing a complete ban on trade of endangered species.

Recently, CITES representatives urged the need for a complete ban on the export of African elephants. Subsequently, the animal protection organisation held a high-level meeting at its headquarters in which a proposal against the ban was presented in the form of a resolution.

In their recent conference held at Geneva, CITES representatives from over 100 countries voted in favor of banning the export of African elephants.

As per results of voting on the issue, representatives from 87 countries supported the ban and 29 countries opposed the move. On the other hand, 25 countries, mainly comprising European states, did not vote on the resolution at all. After two days of the resolution’s review, however, these countries also endorsed the measure subject to a few changes in the outlines of the resolution.

In Africa, Zimbabwe emerged as the country with the strongest position against the ban as it is the top elephant exporter in the continent. In addition to elephant sales in different parts of the world, Zimbabwe alone has sold over a 100 elephant calves to China between 2012 and 2019. Still, most of the CITE representatives were of the view that the African elephants exported to various parts of the world were captured from forests and not bred on captive farms.

According to CITES, the African breed of the gentle giants is a highly endangered species and only those elephants, which are documented and grown in existing zoos of Africa, could be considered for export.

However, the importing country must come up with solid reasons for procurement of wild animals and prove that the importer country has safe and friendly habitats for the elephants. Since the ban by the international organisation, the plan to bring in elephants for Lahore Zoo has been hampered.

The provincial wildlife department published a tender for the import of elephants in 2017 but the department has not received proper responses. Now, Punjab Wildlife Department Director General Sohail Ashraf has given a deadline of October 30 to importers, following which the government relaxation will lapse.

“The Import of wild animals has become challenging due to which the provincial department has initiated action. The prices of African elephants have skyrocketed.”

Published in The Express Tribune, September 7th, 2019.

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