PESHAWAR: The federal government assured the Peshawar High Court on Tuesday that it would approach the International Animals Committee under the CITES (Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) to get permission for the import of a pair of Zimbabwean elephants by a wildlife trader for the Peshawar Zoo.
In light of that assurance, a bench consisting of Justice Qaiser Rasheed and Justice Abdul Shakoor disposed of the petition of the wildlife trader against the non-issuance of no objection certificate (NOC) by the government for importing elephants.
The petition filed by director of the Mohammad Hanif and Engineer Construction Limited Mohammad Hanif requested the court to ask the climate change ministry to grant NOC for the transportation of elephants for Peshawar Zoo from Zimbabwe without further delay.
He had also prayed the court to direct the ministry to take up the matter with the inspector general of forests and head of CITES as well as other relevant authorities to get extension of reasonable time for transportation of the elephants.ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER AD
Provincial additional advocate general Syed Sikandar Hayat Khan and environment secretary Shahidullah Khan told the court that the permission of the International Animal Committee under the CITES was necessary for the import of elephants.
PHC disposes of petition against non-issuance of import NOC
They said as the issue pertained to international animal committee, it could only be taken up with it by the federal government and not the provincial one.
They said the provincial government would send a request to the federal government for taking up the matter with the relevant international forum.
Climate change secretary Naheed S Durrani and deputy attorney general Asghar Khan Kundi assured the court that after receiving that request from the provincial government, the federal government would approach the world animal committee with a request for the issuance of permission to import the pair of elephants.
The bench wondered how many days the government would take to resolve the issue.
The secretary replied that it was a technical issue, so she was not in a position to give an exact timeframe for it.
Mr Asghar Kundi said the government would try to resolve the issue within a month.
Last year, a ban was placed internationally on the elephant zoo trade, so the petitioner wasn’t allowed to transport the same from Zimbabwe.
The petitioner had also requested the court to direct the respondents, including the ministry of climate change, Peshawar Zoo, provincial forests and wildlife secretary, provincial government through the chief secretary, and others to pay Rs92 million incurred on the acquiring of elephants to the petitioner in case he was not permitted to transport elephants to the zoo.
The petitioner claimed that the Zimbabwean government had agreed to the elephant export to Pakistan and that the officials of Zim Park Wildlife Department of Zimbabwe had visited Peshawar and found out the zoo site conducive for elephants.
He also said those officials had made certain suggestions which were also followed by the management of the Peshawar Zoo.
The petitioner said a proper place was allocated in the zoo for the pair of elephants.
He said elephants had already been purchased and he had made arrangement for their transportation to Pakistan.
The petitioner said on the directives of the provincial government, he had already purchased a pair of elephants in Zimbabwe that were being taken care of by the Zimbabwean wildlife department with him bearing the expenses on a daily basis.