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Wildlife in Karachi

Not many people know that in the early days of Pakistan when the lion roared in the Karachi Zoo the roar could be heard as far away in what was at that time Jacob Lines. Gives you an idea of the noise pollution which now envelops our dear city of Karachi. By the way nowadays there is not just one lion but according to certain reports there are 300 lions within the city limits of Karachi. It is reported that they are kept in rooftop cages, at farm houses, etc. Lions are not the only wildlife you might run into in a seemingly peaceful locality. Not long ago some people in a posh neighborhood saw a strange sight. Observing passersbys with large innocent eyes from over a wall in a posh neighbourhood was believe it or not a giraffe. There are many more stories like this doing the rounds and sometimes the cat literally jumps out of the bag when incidents happen in broad daylight like the one in which a lion who was being transported for a medical checkup decided to ditch its handlers and take a walk down Shahrah-e-Faisal. This obviously resulted in total panic in the area and thank God nobody got hurt, including the lion, and the animal was captured and sent to Karachi Zoo. There were no follow-up stories; so we don’t know how is that lion with a mood of his own is now spending his days. In the luxury of his owner’s estate or living in handouts at the Karachi zoo.

From various stories that have surfaced I have reached the conclusion that animals living in the Karachi Zoo are at best treated like distant cousins. The meat which is supplied is not quality stuff and not in the quantity required. The bigger the animal more are the problems, which is why elephants do not fare very well at the zoo. Thank God for external help but I still think this huge animal requires more care attention and nourishment. If you want to see how elephants should be kept take a visit down to Thailand or Malaysia. This is where you will find elephants enjoying the best of life.

Talking of lions I wonder how many people remember the incident involving a lion during a national election in Karachi. One of the candidates had the lion as its symbol and decided to practically introduce the real thing to his electorate. This was in the old Sabzi Mandi area and the lion that had been procured for this event was kept there in a cage. Crowds of people would gather outside the cage but from a safe distance. One young man late in the evening decided to pat the lion as if it was a cat. The lion jumped at the opportunity and started dragging the poor youth into the cage. The candidate was there and it must go to his credit that he did not look on helplessly but started hitting the lion with some piece of wood he picked up. He kept at it and amazingly managed to drag the young man out of the lion’s clutches to safety. He was Abu Bakar Shekani, a brave soul who set a great example.

So how do you get all these wild animals to sneak into a cosmopolitan city like Karachi? According to available information, there are many ways to get these lions, tigers, etc., in the city with the most straightforward being to get a proper licence, which includes formally applying for this privilege and paying the required fees in the State Bank of Pakistan. For the more ambitious there is also a chance to get a licence for a mini zoo. This obviously allows the owner of the licence to keep more than one wild animal.

Exotic birds are also rampant in Karachi and many can be bought in the Empress Market Saddar area though it does get raided now and again to discourage smuggling of such birds. One such bird a huge and beautiful parrot a Macaw an endangered species which has 17 variations can be seen in a small cage at the entrance of an oriental restaurant in Clifton. The cage is not even big enough for the poor bird to flutter its wings. I am surprised no concerned NGO has so far noticed this and attempted to rescue the poor bird or at least force the owners to provide better accommodation for this colorful bird that seems so sad in this little enclosure.

Zia Ul Islam Zuberi, "Wildlife in Karachi," Business recorder. 2024-03-23.
Keywords: Social sciences , Karachi Zoo , Jacob lines , Medical checkup , National Election , Mini zoo , State Bank , Abu Bakar Shekani , Pakistan , NGO , SBP

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