BAHAWALPUR: As many as 284 deer which were donated by the Prince of Dubai vanished from Laal Sohanra National Park, Bahawalpur.
The park is reportedly a favorite of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and CM Punjab Shahbaz Sharif, both of whom are known to be regular visitors to the spot.
A few months ago, the prime minister was monitoring the area from a helicopter when he expressed his displeasure over rampant deforestation in the area.
A month ago, Assistant Director Wildlife Muhammad Akbar was given the charge of 65 RD Jangla (cage) which contained over 400 deer, 320 of which had been a gift from the Prince of Dubai.
When Akbar took over the charge from former Assistant Director Chaudhry Iftikhar, he visited the 65 RD cage to discover that the number of deer was far fewer than what it ought to be.
The new AD immediately launched an inquiry and informed District Forest Officer Jawad Hussain in a written report that 284 costly deer had vanished.
The former Assistant Director Wildlife Chaudhry Iftikhar (in tenure for six months) and the one preceding him, Chaudhry Muhammad Zahid (in tenure for six months too) are being accused of theft.
According to sources, several people from the management of the park were involved in malpractices, which included giving permission to influential people to illegally hunt the deer.
Some animals were also reportedly sold for around Rs20,000 each.
District Forest Officer Jawad Hussain has constituted an inquiry team consist of Rana Muhammad Sarwar Range Officer, Zahoor Ahmad Range Officer, Fazlur Rehman Shah SDFO and Iftikhar Ahmad.
But according to a source at the national park, the committee includes the same officials who are suspected to have been complicit in the act.
A group officials who requested not to be name informed the media that arrangements for the protection of the deer were not satisfactory, and only eight to ten watchmen were deployed to protect the eight km cage.
Some of the deer also fall victim to wild animals while some of the officials also gave the deer away as gifts.
District Forest Officer Jawad Hussain told the media that Assistant Director Muhammad Akbar has filed a report of 284 missing deer and the Inquiry committee will be filing their report in 7 days.