LAHORE - The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday directed the Punjab government to enforce the ban on hunting or killing of blackbucks throughout the province.

LHC Chief Justice Muhammad Yawar Ali passed the order on a petition seeking protection for the endangered species of blackbucks in Punjab.

The CJ also directed the government to submit record of past five years showing action taken against violators and FIRs leading to conviction of culprits involved in killing and hunting of protected species.

A Punjab Forests and Wildlife Department official appeared before the court and submitted that unfortunately blackbucks had disappeared from the entire province owing to hunting and natural death.

On this, CJ Ali expressed his dismay and observed that blackbucks were protected and their protection and safety was responsibility of the government.

The department in its report informed the court that 86 blackbucks were born in 2016, out of which 46 blackbucks lost their lives due to pneumonia and attacks from other animals. The Punjab government said that fencing of Lal Suhanra Park had been completed and an agreement had been signed with Deer Foundation for breeding of blackbucks. However, the CJ summoned the Punjab forest wildlife director general, with direction to him to produce data regarding measures taken to protect the endangered species.

“Blackbucks are considered vulnerable and close to extinction,” the CJ observed. The chief justice expressed his dismay over the fact that the government is not taking enough steps to protect the endangered species.

Advocate Sheraz Zaka had moved the petition on behalf of a citizen, arguing that blackbucks were being stolen and hunted at Lal Suhanra Park in Bahawalpur. He said in India recently famous actor Salman Khan was sentenced to five years in prison by a trial court in Rajkot for hunting blackbucks. According to third schedule of the Punjab Wildlife Preservation, Protection Wildlife Act 1972, blackbucks were protected and the Punjab government showed negligence in its statutory obligations. He asked the court to order the government for safety and protection of blackbucks.