Cabinet turns down request for animal import

Cites FMD risk as food security ministry seeks one-time easing of rules

Zafar Bhutta June 07, 2024
Cattle feed in a field in Golden Bay, South Island, New Zealand March 29, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE


The cabinet has blocked the import of banned wildlife from Africa by turning down a proposal floated by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research.

Sources told The Express Tribune that the food security ministry sought a one-off relaxation in the application of Pakistan Animal Quarantine Rules 1980 for the import of wildlife from Africa.

However, a recent cabinet meeting dismissed the request. During discussion, the cabinet expressed concern over the import of wild animals from an African country from which the purchase of animals was prohibited owing to the risk of foot and mouth disease (FMD) making its way into the country, particularly when the virus strain could be different from the one existing in Pakistan, which may have serious consequences.

In response, it was explained that the animals would be quarantined prior to their entry into Pakistan. However, it was felt that the risk should be addressed, especially when the existing quarantine procedures could not be completely relied upon.

The Ministry of National Food Security stated that the Animal Quarantine (Import and Export of Animals and Animal Products) Rules, 1980, framed under the Pakistan Animal Quarantine (Import and Export of Animals and Animal Products) Ordinance, 1979, were promulgated to regulate the export and import of animals and animal products.

According to Schedule-II of the rules, the import of animals having cloven hoof was prohibited from countries where SAT 1, SAT 2 and SAT 3 serotypes of FMD were considered to be present.

The cabinet was informed that the Punjab Wildlife Department had conveyed its intent for the import of wild animals having cloven hoof from South Africa (where SAT is endemic) for Lahore Zoo and Lahore Safari Park.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Management Authority under the chairmanship of the minister for climate change in its meeting held on January 23, 2024 had already allowed the Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries Department, the government of Punjab, the import of wild animals from African countries. However, the consignment was required to be examined and quarantined at the point of entry into Pakistan by the Animal Quarantine Department.

Animals would to be released only after ensuring that they were disease free under the 1979 ordinance and 1980 rules. The ministry revealed that the import of animals was at an advanced stage as they had already been procured and were ready to be shipped. Therefore, the cabinet may consider granting a “one-time relaxation” from Schedule-II of the 1980 rules.

The animal species being imported were Nyala, Springbok, Blesbok and Giraffe.

The cabinet considered a summary titled “One-time relaxation in the Pakistan Animal Quarantine Rules 1980 for import of wildlife from Africa”, submitted by the Ministry of National Food Security, but did not approve the proposal.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 7th, 2024.

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