Wildlife authorities on Monday foiled an attempt to smuggle two black bear cubs and arrested the accused, said police and department officials. The two-month-old cubs are of a rare species of black bears which are an uncommon find in this part of the world.
District wildlife officer Muhammad Hussain said they received a report regarding a bid to smuggle cubs from Mansehra to Punjab. Acting upon the intelligence tip-off, they seized the cubs from Bisham area with the help of the police just as the animals were being shifted to a vehicle bound for Lahore. The accused smuggler, who was later identified as Ramzan from Gujranwala, was also arrested.
Hussain said capturing the cubs could not have been possible without first killing their mother and the accused might have killed the parent and sold her hide and teeth.
Speaking to journalists, Ramzan later confessed he bought the two male cubs for Rs150,000 from Niaz Ali Pathan of Bisham and was smuggling them to Gujranwala where he could have sold them for Rs150,000 to Rs200,000 each. He added the cubs are used in dog fights or to entertain circus goers.
Surprisingly, Ramzan said he had successfully smuggled over 14 bear cubs to Punjab during the last couple of years. He added dozens of other smugglers throng the hilly areas of Hazara division to smuggle the cubs to Punjab after purchasing them from poachers from Kohistan, Mansehra, Torghar and Bisham.
Muhammad Hussain admitted there were frequent reports of poaching and smuggling of bear cubs from the forests of Hazara, but no arrests were made prior to Monday’s interception.
Wildlife authorities have shifted the cubs to Lalazar Zoo of Nathiagali while the accused has been sent to jail.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 30th, 2013.