Karachi Zoological Garden-1

Lions and tigers. No elephants? Oh, My!
* Ever since Anarkali died, the Karachi Zoo has been unable to acquire her replacement as no international airlines that transport live animals make it to Pakistan any more

By Jamil Khan/Maliha Rehman | KARACHI

KARACHI: The Karachi zoo has been unable to replace the widely loved elephant Anarkali who died in July last year at the age of 65. One of the main reasons is that the International Air Transport Association (IATA) banned the transport of live animals and the two major airlines capable of undertaking the task stopped flying to Pakistan, said Karachi Zoo District Officer Mansoor Qazi.
The transportation of animals became difficult enough after 9/11, he said. KLM and Lufthansa were the only airlines with the capacity to transport live animals around the world as they have pressurized cabins and oxygen arrangements for them. “Now we are exchanging animals with different zoos in Pakistan to meet our needs,” he said.
There are only two elephants in zoos in the country: one is in Islamabad and the other at the Lahore Zoo came about two decades ago. It is unlikely that these zoos will be able to give up their single elephants in an exchange but the Karachi Zoo has yet to approach them.
The city government had issued a tender notice in 2004-05 to procure an elephant before Anarkali’s death who had grown quite old by then. But due to the ban on the transportation of live animals, however, no bids were received, Qazi said.
The Karachi Zoo, spread over 33 acres in the heart of the city, houses over 1,000 animals (including 500 species of birds, and 500 species of mammals and reptiles), and attracts over 3.5 million people every year from all over the country.
The zoo also works for the conservation of endangered indigenous species by protecting them and providing them with a natural habitat. “As more and more animals are threatened, zoos are no longer just places where animals are exhibited,” he said. “They are, more importantly, conservatories for endangered specis.”
Highly threatened local species at the Karachi Zoo include the Sindh Ibex, Indus Dolphin, Black Buck, Hag Deer, Hyena, Otter, Pythons, and marine tortoises. The spur-thighed tortoise is an example of a globally endangered animal that can be found at the zoo. Some of these animals are in pairs. “We’re trying to obtain highly threatened species from the Sindh Wildlife Department to complete the pairs so that they can start breeding in captivity,” he said. “We want to breed them, prepare a viable population of them, try to remove the factors that initially resulted in their endangerment and then once again release them back into their natural habitat. This is why we also try to minimize the animals’ interaction with human trainers and keepers. If we allow human printing to take effect on the animals, the animals will have greater difficulty in adjusting back into their natural habitat.”
Every year, the IUCN (The World Conservation Union) and WWF (World Wildlife Fund) assess the level of endangerment of local animal species. The zoo’s conservation activities are based on these surveys. Animal exchange programs are organized for the breeding of animals. “If we allow animals of the same family, living in the same zoo, to breed together, infertility and other diseases are usually transferred to the third generation offspring,” elaborates Qazi. “For this purpose, we usually exchange animals with zoos in Pakistan. For instance, we recently carried out some exchanges with the Lahore Zoo and the Bahawalpur Zoo.”
Continuing its role as a conservatory, the Karachi zoo organizes programmes for students on the primary, secondary, college and university levels. Regular programmes are also held to improve staff skills. The zoo’s veterinary hospital is well equipped with an operation theatre, food supplements, vaccines, tranquilizers and guns. Regular checkups are carried out for the quality and quantity of the food given to animals.
Despite their best efforts, however, the zoo’s management is restricted by limited funds. “Every zoo in the world functions with the aid of its country’s citizens. We need more people to be interested enough to donate and adopt animals,” Qazi said. “If they find this difficult to do, they can always volunteer to help monetarily or help out in the construction of an enclosure or in the painting of an animal cage. We can only achieve so much with our given resources.”
Limited funds aside, the zoo administration has recently completed a new portion in the Mughal Garden. Thirty-five species of roses have been planted. Moreover, cages for flamingoes and doves have also been completed.
Visitors interviewed by Daily Times expressed satisfaction with the sanitary arrangements at the zoo. “But the government should do something to obtain an elephant. Children miss the joy rides,” they said. Shakeel, a college student also suggested that the visiting hours at the Mughal Garden should be prolonged. The garden currently stays open only for two hours.
-Published in Daily Times | March 19, 2007

~ by jamilkhan on June 16, 2008.

One Response to “Karachi Zoological Garden-1”

  1. thanks to providing a lot of information

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