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Bear cub on ‘sale’ confiscated

ISLAMABAD: The Marghazar Zoo administration on Friday confiscated a seven-month-old bear cub that was apparently on sale at the National Science Fair.

Revived after seven years, the week-long national fair organised by the Pakistan Museum of Natural History, Ministry of Science and Technology, attracted hundreds of school and college students.

Among the 150 stalls set up at the fair, the pavilion of Dr Rana’s Clinic was the centre of attraction where the black bear cub was tied among other exhibits such as an Indian python and the corn snake. Soon, the news spread that the bear cub was on sale.

“I was surprised to learn about the heinous act. Some 100 organisations have set up their stalls to showcase and promote research and innovations only for education and awareness of students. The bear cub and other exhibits were included to create love among children for species in the wild,” said Pakistan Science Foundation Chairman Dr Mohammad Ashraf.

According to Dr Bilal Rana, representing Dr Rana’s Clinic, the news about the sale of the bear cub was a misunderstanding.

“The bear cub was on sale for Rs330,000 was a slip of the tongue,” Dr Rana clarified.

He said the cub belonged to one of the clients who owned exotic species and was brought to the fair as an exhibit.

He said the cub was possibly captured from the wild, like most black bear cubs were. According to Dr Rana, the organisers had asked him and his team to wrap up his stall.

However, when the Ministry of Climate Change voiced its concerns, the administration of Marghazar Zoo took the bear cub into custody.

Inspector General Forest Mehmood Nasir said the sale of endangered species was prohibited under the Pakistan Trade Control of Wild Fauna and Flora Act 2012.

“This law aims to ensure that trade in wild animals will not lead to their extermination. Bears are top predators and symbolise a healthy ecosystem. If they vanish, the ecosystem will be impacted significantly,” said Mr Nasir.

According to the official, bear cubs were stolen while the mother was in hibernation.

“At least two bears are killed to capture one cub, mostly the cub’s mother and sometimes its aunt which protects the cub,” the official explained.

Marghazar Zoo Director Mohammad Irshad said how the cub was acquired would be investigated. He shrugged off rumours that the cub had been released to its handlers.

“The black Himalayan bear has been confiscated and is being looked after by handlers at the zoo,” Mr Irshad told Dawn.

Courtesy : Dawn News

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