Tigers in trouble

Tigers in trouble

Monday, July 27, 2009

The news report about the acquisition of a pair of Siberian white tigers by Suleiman Sharif, the younger son of the Punjab chief minister, is disturbing. The tigers rank among the world’s endangered species and their export is banned under international conservation regulations. It appears that the young Sharif – who apparently wishes to house the animals at the family estate on Raiwind Road in Lahore – is an enthusiast who has established a kind of zoo at the farm house. But of course conditions there are unfit for so rare a species, which needs a different climate, expert care and plenty of space. It is hard to see the inhabitants of Siberia faring well in the heat and humidity of Lahore, even if cooling arrangements have been made. The fact too is that conservation rules exist to protect the biodiversity of our planet, rather than the welfare of animals at risk of extinction alone, and should for these reasons not be ignored. It is obvious influence was used to bring the beasts into the country and to bypass laws in this respect.

We must demand the issue be investigated. The PML-N has taken a hard-line on wrong doings committed by its members. Some have been forced out of the party. This of course is something to be welcomed. But the same principles must be applied across the board, even when they involve members of the Sharif family itself. So far, Suleiman Sharif has declined to comment on the tiger business, even though the story has broken in the media. He needs to offer an explanation. What is even more important is that the wellbeing of animals be safeguarded. There continued survival is far more important than gratifying personal whim. Our own wildlife authorities too need to intervene and ensure the matter is dealt with as per the laws of the land.



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