Animal abuse: Tigress’ ‘death’ spotlights a larger issue

Published: May 9, 2013
The White Siberian tiger is an endangered species, according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora of 1973. PHOTO: REUTERS

The White Siberian tiger is an endangered species, according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora of 1973. PHOTO: REUTERS


The star of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s election campaigns – a white tigress –reportedly collapsed on Wednesday and is presumed to have died due to excessive heat during a rally in Lahore.

WWF officials suspect the rare White Siberian tigress died due to excessive heat and noise but, the owner of the tiger, Mian Zia, has rejected the reports, saying the animal is alive and healthy.

Zia, who is the nephew of Mian Marghoob, PML-N’s provincial assembly candidate from Lahore and owns nine tigers, claimed the tigress in question had been ill and was taken to the University of Veterinary Science in Lahore, where the doctors ‘mistakenly’ pronounced her dead.  He added that the endangered animal was physically healthy now and had not died, and even offered to provide evidence.

Doctors at the UVS said that the young tigress was in a critical condition when she was taken back from the hospital by the owner.

WWF Biodiversity Director Uzma Khan said that the tigress brought to the hospital seemed to be “extremely weak and ill” in pictures. “Every tiger has a different pattern of stripes on it, just like humans have different fingerprints, so if that tigress is still well and alive, why don’t they bring it over or send fresh pictures to the WWF?” she asked.

The bigger issue highlighted by the incident, however, is the violation of treaties relating to animal welfare and protection of endangered species.

The White Siberian tiger is an endangered species, according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora of 1973 (CITES) which was first acceded by the Government of Pakistan in 1976 and later ratified by Parliament through the “2012 Act”.

Actress, writer and rights activist Faryal Gauhar said, “We wrote to the election commission protesting the practice of exotic and endangered cats being brought to public gatherings.”

In the letter sent to the ECP two weeks ago, she stated, “I hold a valid and legitimate concern about the welfare of animals in custody of private individuals; and their inappropriate use for political purposes or ways in which the dignity of the animals itself as well as safety of the general public is threatened.”

In response to her letter, Gohar said, the ECP verbally stated it was the district government’s responsibility to stop such activities and not the ECP’s. However, she filed a petition in the Lahore High Court, which will be heard today.

When asked whether taking lions or tigers into public gatherings should be allowed, Punjab Election Commissioner Mehboob Anwer said, “The election commission only issues guidelines to ensure law and order in the country, though an animal like a lion can harm people, the matter lies in the district government’s purview.”


Displaying real versions of elections symbols at political rallies can create quite a buzz among supporters – especially if the symbol happens to be a lion or a tiger.

Muhammad Irshad owns six lions as pets at his Bedian farmhouse and rents them out to PML-N candidates for display during rallies. The rent for one of his lions is a whopping Rs200,000 per day.

“I spend as much as Rs15,000 on a lion each day, so I have the right to charge this much from anyone who wants to rent one,” said Irshad, who is a PML-N supporter himself.

Ali Shah, a well known political figure in Lahore, rented one of Irshad’s lions when Nawaz Sharif held a rally in Mandi Bahauddin. The ferocious feline became the centre of attention, drawing large crowds.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 9th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (14)

  • usman
    May 9, 2013 - 6:03AM

    Spare the animals please!


  • Adil Uddin
    May 9, 2013 - 7:27AM

    What’s ECP going to do now? Tigers, whether white or regular, are endangered species; and it’s crystal clear that the one used by PML-N for Election Campaign died due to exhaustion, bad weather and noise pollution. Is it permissible as per ECP’s guidelines to torture and bother any animal this way just to gather attention and support for one’s party? It will be interesting if WWF (World Wildlife Fund) works on this case independently, and ECP won’t be able to lock horns with the global organization just to defend PML-N.

    That’s their commitment and responsibility for an animal, imagine what’s in store for 180 million Pakistanis if Nawaz Sharif gets elected as the Prime Minister once again. To bring animals like Lions and Tigers amidst common people was also a dangerous act at the first place, since you never know how the creature is going to react at what time. You can’t tell if the Tiger is angry, stressed or unhealthy when surrounded by spectators this way.


  • Max
    May 9, 2013 - 8:36AM

    Sad that this endangered species was not taken care of. So this is how Noora league looks after its own.


  • Hairaan
    May 9, 2013 - 9:05AM

    In Karachi at least 10 HUMANS are target killed everyday. Please write something about it if you care for humans more than tigers.


  • Akku
    May 9, 2013 - 9:25AM

    No wonder people call Noora league circus, coz they carried around their ‘shair’ all over town like a circus. Feel sorry for the poor animal.Recommend

  • Usman
    May 9, 2013 - 10:35AM

    Tigress, tell them u are OK …. Tujhe Siberia ki kasam ;)


  • Rumormonger
    May 9, 2013 - 10:48AM

    The Tiger is dead …… the tiger rises from the dead…….. politicians at their lowest.


  • Em
    May 9, 2013 - 10:59AM

    @Hairaan: Feel free to read the 100 other article about the humans deaths. That does not mean that every article in the world has to be about it and that you just let endangered species die out without a noise.


  • Panzu
    May 9, 2013 - 12:30PM

    I wonder how a “SHER” party can save it’s people when it couldn’t save it’s own tiger? Shame on PML-N.


  • Fappy
    May 9, 2013 - 12:43PM

    The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way in which its animals are treated.

    I hold that the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man.

    I feel that spiritual progress does demand at some stage that we should cease to kill our fellow creatures for the satisfaction of our bodily wants.

    I do not regard flesh-food as necessary for us at any stage and under any clime in which it is possible for human beings ordinarily to live. I hold flesh-food to be unsuited to our species.



  • ex PML-N
    May 9, 2013 - 1:20PM

    PML-N is hiding the fact that the lion belonged to Hamza Shahbaz and instead putting the blame on an anonymous supporter. Hamza Shahbaz paid over $100,000 to import this tiger and had a purpose built cage in his Raiwind Palace to cater its need. You can google it and find it. Its such a shame that no body is taking the responsibility of it.


  • Mohammad
    May 9, 2013 - 1:54PM

    Lesson learned.. that next time don’t allot Lion or Tiger symbol to anyone.. and for PMLN, just give them Rupee Note as Election Symbol,


  • K Abbasi
    May 9, 2013 - 4:44PM

    Shame on these ppl..they could never value HUMAN life, do we really expect them to show care for poor defenceless animals??? Political parties are willing to spend Rs 200,000 for an animal display in their rallies but won’t rather spend this money for the welfare of their people!!


  • Zaya
    May 9, 2013 - 5:07PM

    Here, let me make it easier for you people:


    Now the question is: is it the same tiger? Because there was already a ban on import of such cats so how could that other guy own it?

    If it is the same tiger, that means not only are they denying the responsibility of who owns it, but also used people’s money to feed it for more than 3 years, only to reacquire it later for their election campaign.

    Can anyone provide more information? (but with sources, not from thin air).


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