Bears will be shifted abroad for specific time, IHC informed

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ISLAMABAD    –  The Islamabad High Court (IHC) was Monday informed that two Himalayan brown bears would be sent to an overseas sanctuary for a specific time till a sanctuary for the animals constructed in the country. 

The counsel for Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) told this to a single bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Minallah during hearing of a case related to implementation of the court’s verdict on shifting of all animals at the Marghazar zoo to suitable sanctuaries.

During the hearing, Barrister Sardar Ijaz Ishaq for Ms Naheed S. Durrani Secretary Ministry of Climate Change and Barrister Danyal Hassan, the counsel for the Chairperson of IWMB informed the court that the Board, in its meeting held on11th December deliberated regarding the relocation of the two Himalayan brown bears to an appropriate sanctuary.

They told that the Board, after obtaining opinions from the experts, has decided to relocate forthwith the two brown bears, namely Suzie and Bubloo, to a sanctuary established in the Kingdom of Jordan.

The IHC bench observed in its order that it is heartening for this court to note that the Board has correctly appreciated the jurisprudence laid down in its judgment, dated 21-05-2020, passed in W.P. No.1155/2019, titled “Islamabad Wildlife Management Board through its Chairman v. Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad through its Mayor and 4 others.”

It mentioned that the natural habitat of Suzie and Bubloo, the two incarcerated brown bears, was the high altitude plateau of Deosai National Park in the Himalayas. It was indeed inhumane to have deprived them of living in their natural habitat merely for the entertainment of the human species. They have remained caged in the Marghazar zoo for more than a decade.

Justice Athar stated that a zoo, no matter how well equipped, is no less than a concentration camp for living beings. Both the bears were sent by the Creator to live free in their natural habitats. They were born free and taking them out of their natural habitat and caging them was in violation of the natural rights bestowed upon them by the Creator. They were imprisoned without having committed a crime.

“By depriving them of their natural habitat, the human species has interfered with the balance created in nature by the Creator. They were subjected to unimaginable pain and suffering and there was no justification for this cruel treatment other than to entertain the human species. They have suffered enough and they lack the ability to let the human species know what they must have gone through,” added the IHC Chief Justice.

He maintained that their abnormal behavior while imprisoned was sufficient to speak volumes for the unimaginable pain and suffering. “Kaavan,” the elephant, has already been relocated to a sanctuary in Cambodia. The reports received from Cambodia are a tribute to the people of Pakistan and its Government who accepted the jurisprudence of this Court and implemented it in letter and spirit. The relocation of “Kaavan,” the elephant, and the two Himalayan brown bears, Suzie and Bubloo, to appropriate sanctuaries has set a precedent for others to follow.

He further said that they will always represent the people of Pakistan and their resolve to treat living species with respect and it is an acknowledgement that animal species have rights and that it is a duty of humans to protect them. The survival of the human species on this planet is dependent on the existence and protection of the animal species and their natural habitats. Kaavan, Suzie and Bubloo will always be ambassadors of the people of Pakistan, a reminder that the human race can go extinct if the animal species and their rights are not protected.

The IHC judge stated that they would serve as symbols of the empathy and respect that the animal species deserve from humans and a reminder that protecting their rights and their welfare is of paramount importance. They will remain the messengers of the people of Pakistan for the rest of humanity that it is time to end imprisoning sentient animal species in cages in a zoo and to restore the balance of nature by letting them live with dignity in their respective natural habitats so that they may enjoy their natural rights.

He added that both Suzie and Bubloo, the brown bears, could have been taken care of in Pakistan but time was required for creating an enabling environment and a facility that would serve as a sanctuary.

Justice Athar said that this court records its appreciation for the decision of the Board not to subject these sentient living beings to further pain and suffering even for a day and to relocate them to an appropriate sanctuary in the Kingdom of Jordan till a facility could be established that would meet their behavioral, physiological and social needs.

He also said, “This is a step towards changing mindsets and would definitely contribute towards fighting the evils that today threaten the peaceful existence of the human species on this plant because it is a recognition of a fundamental principle; life is the most precious creation of the Creator and its protection is a duty of every human. There will be no crime, violence, or bloodshed if this principle is acknowledged as the purpose of human existence on this planet. Every form of life is an end in itself.”

The bench said that this Court would also like to avail this opportunity by recognizing the valuable and laudable services rendered by Dr Amir Khalil and his organization Four Paws in assisting the Board and the Government of Pakistan and to enable spreading the message in the rest of the world that the welfare of sentient animal species and protecting their natural rights is of paramount importance.

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