BOOKS: The Plight of Pakistani Animals
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2007:
The Plight of Pakistani Animals
by Khalid Mahmood Qurashi
President, Animal Save Movement, Pakistan
In Pakistan even human beings are not accorded fundamental
rights. But the condition of animals is worse and miserable.
Both birds and land animals are so frequently hunted as if
they were an enemy army, including by some of the persons and
organizations whose jobs are to protect animals. and their lives.
Members of our wildlife and forestry departments often aid the
hunters, and even participate in the killing.
Bankers, industrialists, and politicians invite their
foreign business partners, including Arabian princes, to come hunt
even our rarest species–and to capture our vanishing wild falcons,
to turn them into hunting weapons. Local leaders and merchants
show their influence by hosting cockfights, bear-baiting, and other
kinds of animal fight.
The condition of water creatures is also not good. Fish,
tortoises and other aquatic species are losing their lives and
habitat not only to nets, but also to explosives detonated to kill
them by shock.
Hunting and fishing seasons supposedly exist to protect
animals at least during the seasons when they raise their young, but
poachers, even if they are captured by chance, usually escape
serious punishment by paying a bribe. Because there is no effective
check on hunting and fishing, with either legal or illegal weapons,
hunters and fishers kill animals by any means they wish, all year
Our few animal protection laws include the Prevention of
Cruelty to Animals Act 1890, which provides minor penalties for
various types of abuse and neglect; penal code section 377,
providing up to two years in prison for having sexual intercourse
with animals; and penal code section 429, which provides punishment
for persons who kill, paralyze, or disable working animals and
livestock. All of these laws are written primarily to protect people
against losing the value of the animals they keep. They do not
protect animals for their own sake.
Neither are these laws enforced.
No one pays any attention to the ongoing loss of animal life
in Pakistan. Many of our formerly indigenous species are now only
seen in zoos, including elephants, lions, tigers, tree kangaroos,
zebras, and wild pigs.
We are also losing such formerly common species as camels,
buffalo, deer, wild cattle and goats, peacocks, pelicans, and
even some of our once most abundant small birds and waterfowl.
Unrestrained hunting is the most visible cause of depleted
animal life, but agricultural chemical spraying also takes an
enormous toll on birds and other animals who ingest poisoned insects
or plant material.
Logging is depleting forests, while tree replanting is not
being done, despite public promises.
Our human population is increasing, as our animal population
decreases. This is wrongly accepted as inevitable. The U.S.,
Britain, Japan, and parts of Europe also experienced explosive
human population growth during the 20th century, but managed to
greatly increase their wildlife populations by protecting endangered
species and critical habitat, and restricting hunting to relatively
short seasons, with strong wildlife law enforcement.
But the catastrophe to animals in Pakistan is not restricted
only to wildlife. There are few veterinary clinics in Pakistan.
Many lifesaving veterinary drugs are neither made here nor imported.
Even people who want to take good care of their working animals and
pets have great difficulty doing so.
Under such circumstances, introducing effective wildlife
rescue and rehabilitation can scarcely be imagined.
Many organizations claim to be the torch bearers for human
rights in Pakistan, even as poorly as human rights are protected,
but almost none champion animal rights. No organization claims to be
the champion of animal rights. There is no prominent or official
encouragement of mercy and sympathy toward animals. We see no
advertisements for animal protection in our news media. There are no
essay contests for school children about why animals should be kindly
treated. There are no pro-animal conferences or seminars. But
animals are slaughtered in public and eaten on some holidays as if
their cries are unheard and they are as insentient as vegetables and
On March 23, 2007, we of the Animal Save Movement,
Pakistan held a peaceful procession in Multan against the decision of
the district government to close and demolish the only veterinary
hospital in this city of more than four million people, in order to
build a commercial plaza. The authorities were unmoved, and are
meanwhile killing street dogs in both Multan and Rawalpindi.
Feeling as if our years of trying to build awareness have
been of no use to the animals and those who care about them, we are
considering trying to start a veterinary clinic.
[Contact Animal Save Movement Pakistan c/o #1094/2 Hussain
Agahi, Multan 60000, Pakistan; 92-3007-368557;
<email@example.com>.] Editor’s note:
The ANIMAL PEOPLE circulation files indicate that there
appears to be only one active animal protection institution per 7.5
million Pakistanis. This is among the most lopsidedly negative
ratios in the world.
The eight field clinics and 23 mobile clinics operated by the
British-based Brooke Fund for Animals constitute more than half of
all institutional humane activity in Pakistan.
Egypt, where the Brooke operates seven field clinics and 16
mobile clinics, has one pro-animal institution per five million
people. Most are larger than their Pakistani counterparts, and many
Egyptian projects besides the Brooke affiliates receive at least some
help from abroad.
Among nations of 100 million or more people, only Nigeria
appears to rate behind Pakistan, with one pro-animal institution per
18 million humans. African leaders include South Africa, with
one pro-animal institution per 170,000 humans, and Kenya, with one
per 760,000 humans.
At the most active end of the spectrum, the U.S. has one
pro-animal institution per 44,000 humans. World Animal Net data
indicates that the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, and The
Netherlands each have about one per 100,000 humans. Greece,
considered underserved, has one pro-animal institution per 136,000
people–but most are small. Romania, one of the most underserved
nations by European standards, has one pro-animal institution per
India, according to the Animal Welfare Board of India
membership roster, has one pro-animal institution per 440,000
humans. This appears to be by far the most of any major nation in
Asia. Thailand has one pro-animal institution per 1.27 million
people, and Japan has one per 1.6 million.
China has only one ANIMAL PEOPLE reader per 211 million
humans, but Chinese news media often mention organizations for which
we lack contact details. Thus the actual number of Chinese
pro-animal institutions is probably much larger than our Chinese
Ratios of pro-animal institutions to humans in Latin America
include one per 143,650 in Chile, one per 316,430 in Costa Rica,
one per 900,000 humans in both Argentina and Mexico, and one per 1.6
million in Brazil.