The Lahore High Court has formed a special ‘Wildlife Commission’ to regulate the import of wild animals into the province. Exotic animals are used as ostentatious displays of power and wealth all too often in this country. Concerns have been raised time and again over our ruling party and the usage of tigers in their campaign efforts, but nothing has ever been done about it. Under the Punjab Wildlife Act of 1974, the Chief Minister of Punjab is the ex officio Chairman of the Wildlife board, which ultimately means no resultant checks on the import and treatment of wild animals in the province.
Pet shops all over the province smuggle exotic animals for those that can pay for them. There are very few wildlife reserves and sanctuaries, and those that exist are usually under-funded and poorly maintained. Animals are treated heinously by those that thrive on the business of wildlife imports, from stuffing birds into boxes to nabbing alligators from distant areas to use their skins in the production of boots and bags.
Even if we assume that workers of the PML-N have licenses for keeping tigers and other wild cats, why are licenses being provided in the first place? Why are individuals allowed to keep wild animals in their homes? The purpose of this law was to protect wild animals from treatment such as this, and yet we see it being used for further exploitation. One can perhaps recall with decent clarity, the death of the rare white tiger at one of Maryam Nawaz’s election rallies last year. As far as immediate, urgent national issues go, we have a myriad of them; but this does not mean we become ignorant to the direct repercussions of our actions against the environment. Each of us has a responsibility to the ecosystem, and all living things that occupy this hot climate with us; for a start, the reigning government needs to grow up and stop using wild tigers as their political gimmick.