Islamabad: Executive Director, Center for Culture and Development, Dr Nadeem Omar Tarar has said that animals are part of human habitat and same humanity must be extended to all species on the earth.
Dr Omar was addressing a seminar on ‘The state of zoos in Pakistan: searching for humanity,’ organised here by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).
Dr Omar said that unfortunately there is general denial of rights of the animals, where animals are treated as an object. He termed the zoos as prisons where animals are kept as innocent prisoners. He said that inefficiency of the management, poor governance structure and lack of accountability mechanism are largely responsible for the miserable state of zoos in the country. He stressed the need of educating the public about the rights of the animals and civil engagement to help protect the zoos and wildlife parks in the country through citizen liaison committees to report on malpractices and mismanagement.
Dr Imran Khalid from SDPI said that zoos could serve to educate us about the value of biodiversity amid extinction of species all over the world as a result of climatic changes. He said environmental degradation and extreme weather events in the form of heat waves and droughts are not only negatively affecting the humans but also other species including animals, which need to be protected.
He said that the state of zoos in Pakistan is questionable on many fronts including capacity gap, lack of skill, human resources, poor infrastructure and lack of security. He urged the authorities to take the responsibility of conserving the zoos and wildlife as per international biodiversity conventions.
Dr Ejaz Ahmed, biodiversity specialist said it is unfortunate that the state of the zoos in the country deteriorated over time, but zoos and wildlife parks have the important role to play in conservation of extinct species. He said the need is to educate the public and especially the visitors about the importance of the animal conservation and biodiversity for the ecosystem. However, the authorities need to take care of the animals’ food, health and provide a recreational environment as per international standards, he added.
Katie Sipra, scientific officer, Bio Science Department, Comsats University, stressed the need of conservation of animals in zoos through animal management, research, recreation and educational programmes.
Ms Sipra said that zoos should be taken care of by highly trained individuals who are passionate about their profession. Zoos and wildlife parks should be accredited and must meet the international standards, which include living environments, social groupings, nutrition, enrichments, veterinary programmes, involvement in conservation and research, education programmes, safety policies and procedures and physical facilities.
The writer is an anthropologist, former Director of National College of Arts, Rawalpindi campus, currently working for the Center for Culture and Development (C2D), Islamabad & Vice President of the Council of Social Sciences.