At least 513 animals are reported to have gone “missing” from Islamabad’s Marghazar Zoo.
According to a report in The Express Tribune, the Islamabad Metropolitan Corporation (IMC), which was managing the zoo in July 2019, in a report had stated that there were a total of 917 animals of and birds of different species present at the zoo at the time. In May, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) handed over the zoo’s management to the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) with directions to shift the animals in the zoo to shelters.
Following the IHC’s orders, the handover documents dated July 16, 2020, and signed by the Zoo Deputy Director Dr Bilal Khilji, Ministry of Climate Change Biodiversity Director Naeem Ashraf Raja and the takeover authority, IWMB Chairman Dr Anisur Rehman, showed that only 404 animals have been handed over to the new management.
A comparative analysis of the reports showed that the numbers of animals in both reports are different. While some animals decreased in numbers or went missing, others such as the Barking Deer or Hog Deer showed an increase.
As per the details available, the population of the spotted deer fell from 12 to 11 in a year, while the Chinkara Gazelle decreased from seven to three. Similarly, the Black Buck Gazelle fell from four to three, Urials from 11 to four, Nilgai (Blue Bull) from 18 to 16, Zebras from five to four, Mallard Ducks from 108 to 74 and Rose Ringed Parakeet from 136 to 30.
Meanwhile, common doves, which were counted at 255 last year, completely disappeared from the handover document.
While it is not clear as to what happened to these missing animals, a report quoting sources said that the animals have either died or have been stolen.
A few weeks earlier, the Islamabad Zoo’s management had come under fire for burning two lions to death while attempting to force them out of their cage so they could be transported to a sanctuary in Lahore. Animals at the zoo are being relocated to temporary sanctuaries after the IHC while hearing Kaavan’s case, ruled that the zoo is not fit enough for them and lacks the necessary facilities.
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