Kabul Zoo relief; aid for Afghan cats, dogs, equines; bulletins from the front

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, December 2001:

KABUL–The American Zoo Association, European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, and World Association of Zoos and Aquaria in late November set out to raise $30,000 in relief aid for the Kabul Zoo. By December 20 they had raised $202,000, and were asking callers to help the Afghan Animal Fund instead, a separate account set up to help Afghan cats, dogs, donkeys, and horses. The Afghan Animal Fund had collected $28,536 through December 17. Both funds are directed by Davy Jones, 57, president of both the North Carolina Zoo and the board of the London-based Brooke Hospital for Animals.

Since October the Brooke has had as many as 300 workers helping the equines of Afghan refugees in and around the camps in Peshawar and Quetta, Pakistan. The Brooke, the only western animal protection charity to maintain a close presence during the Taliban years, rehearsed in July 2001 by rescuing about 60 racehorses who were left to starve at the Karachi Race Club after the track closed temporarily due to a dispute with the Pakistani government over licensing fees. Another 70 horses died before the Brooke learned of their plight. The track reopened on July 31.

The British Royal Air Force is to fly a three-member team to Kabul in January 2002 to spend eight to ten days at the zoo, treating sick and injured animals and developing a plan to put the facilities in order. Included will be former Kabul University dean of science Ehsan Arghandewal, who fled to Germany after the Taliban came to power; former Kabul Zoo head keeper Taufik, now working at the Koln Zoo in Koln, Germany; and wildlife veterinarian John Lewis.

“Renovating the zoo and giving the staff the ability to buy food, equipment, building materials, power, and water can make the Kabul Zoo a key area for recovery of the whole city,” Jones said, emphasizing the role the zoo has in Afghanistan as a national symbol.

Built in 1967 by Kabul University, the 100-acre zoo was then considered the best in Central Asia, with 417 animals and annual attendance of 150,000 by 1972. From 1992 until 1996, however, it was caught in fighting among mujadin and Communists, warring mujadin factions, and mujadin and the Taliban. Many of the animals were eaten by the fighters. Then bandits in 1997 killed longtime keeper Agha Akhbar. The collection was down to about 40 wild animals and 60
animals of domestic species by the time the Taliban surrendered Kabul to the Northern Alliance.

Even before much outside aid arrived, the Kabul Zoo lions, wolves, and bears received a December 10 feast, through the misfortune of two oxen who escaped from an open-air meat market and rampaged through the remnants of the embassy district before a militia member shot them both dead. Afghan law requires one handler per ox, but the owner
reportedly escaped a fine by donating the carcasses to the zoo. The oxen were considered unfit for human consumption because they were not killed by hallal procedure.

Kenya link?
Kenya Wildlife Service chief Nehemiah Rotich, who staunchly opposed radio-collaring rhinos because it enables poachers to find them, was suspended in mid-November by Kenyan president Daniel arap Moi. “There were press reports linking his suspension to differences with prominent personalities with interests in the posh KWS-owned
Rangers Restaurant at the KWS headquarters in Nairobi, which is leased to Garian Investments Ltd. of South Africa,” reported John Mbaria of the East African. Regardless of why Rotich was ousted, four black rhinos were soon afterward poached in Tsavo East National Park, the first rhinos poached in Kenya since 1993. KWS rhino program coordinator Martin Mulama told Christian Science Monitor staff writer Dana Harman that he suspected Somali involvement, possibly stimulated by the need of Al Qaida to build its finances after taking heavy hits during the U.S. war on terrorism. Somali militias with ties to Yemen have reputedly done most of the ivory and rhino horn poaching in Kenya since circa 1970.
Al Qaida cowboy

Australian rodeo rider David Hicks, 26, of the Adelaide suburb of Salisbury, was among the Al Qaida soldiers captured
fighting alongside the Taliban in Afghan-istan, Australian attorney general Daryl Williams disclosed on December 12. Hicks was reportedly taken into custody by Northern Alliance troops several days earlier. Hicks apparently left the Australian rodeo circuit in November 1999 to train for combat in Pakistan with Lashkar-e-Taiba, a guerilla faction seeking to take Kash-mir from India and unite it with Pakistan. Lashkar-e-Taiba is one of the two factions linked by
India to the December 12 attack on the Indian parliament that left nine Indian citizens and all five attackers dead. After fighting against India in Kashmir, Hicks fought with Al Qaida in Kosovo under the name Muhammad Dawood. He reportedly told his father about two weeks after September 11 that he had gone to Afghanistan to help the Taliban defend Kabul.

Azerbaijan Society for the Protection of Animals president Azar Garayev announced on January 1 that the parliament of the Azerbaijan Republic has agreed to consider ratifying the European Union Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals in 2002, and that the mayor of the capital city of Baku has agreed to work with the Azerbaijan SPA to start an animal shelter. Azerbaijan, a former Soviet state, is located between Iran and Turkey.
Frontier Gandhi

ANIMAL PEOPLE is seeking information about the animal-and-diet-related teachings of the late Pashtun leader Abdul
Ghaffar Khan, 1890-1988, called “the frontier Ghandi” for his dedication to nonviolence and forgiveness. Allied with Mohandas Gandhi, 1930-1947, Ghaffar Khan led the Muslim wing of Gandhi’s Congress Party, seeking a secular subcontinental nation uniting Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. He later sought autonomy for Peshwar.
The “link”

A jury in Santa Ana, California, on December 20 recommended the death penalty for one-armed butcher John Samuel Ghobrial, 31, convicted nine days earlier of raping and killing Juan Delgado, 12, in 1998, in a classic case of violence toward animals preceding violence toward humans. Ghobrial hacked Delgado apart with a meat cleaver and buried the remains in cement. Ghobrial won repeated trial delays after September 11 as defense attorney Denise Gragg contended his ethnicity would preclude a fair trial. Gobrial, a Coptic Christian from Egypt, won religious asylum in 1996 after telling the Immigration and Naturalization Service he lost his arm when a mob pushed him under a train. He turned out to have fled Egypt after he was arrested on suspicion of molesting his seven-year-old cousin and stabbing him with a penknife. Ampu-tation of the arm may have been a penalty under the Islamic fundamentalist penal code of sharia for previous conduct of a similar nature.

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