Animals cannot speak, so we must speak for them and protect them from cruelties. It is heartening to note that the Sindh Assembly has passed a new law under which anyone posting pictures of hunted animals and birds can be sent to prison for six months. The Sindh Wildlife Protection, Preservation, Conservation and Management Bill (Act), 2020 is to provide enhanced protection to wildlife, replacing an old legislation which, according to experts, had failed to give the desired kind of protection to animals. The new law covers a wide range of protections, and now even those animals entering Sindh from other places will be protected. “All wild animals, from a common crow to a turtle, are protected now,” the Sindh Wildlife Conservator says.
The new law empowers wildlife inspectors to register FIRs against those charged with violating wildlife protection rules. All acts hurting wild animals — whether intentionally or unintentionally — shall be considered acts of cruelty and shall be strictly forbidden. The law also prohibits the use of wild animals for fighting and baiting. It bans the use of undersized cages and enclosures that cause discomfort to animals and those found violating these provisions shall be dealt with strongly. The new law empowers the SWD to declare any estate land, wasteland, and reserved forests a protected area where hunting, shooting, killing, injuring, trapping, snaring and poisoning of wild animals shall be prohibited. It prohibits causing damage to infrastructures and culturally significant structures in the protected areas. It also prohibits use of the protected areas for cultivation purposes. It bans exploration of mines and minerals in these areas.
The new legislation provides for the setting of a nine-member council to guide the SWD on ways and means to protect wildlife and raise public awareness about the issue. We hope that this law won’t be misused. As for implementation it should not prove mere ‘crocodile tears’. The only good cage is an empty cage.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 31st, 2020.