Cruelty towards the animals is a known problem in Pakistan. The existing law lacks
appropriate effect to force culprits to stop cruelty on animals, because of the fear of
law enforcement agency. This has forced such crimes to penetrate deep in the social
culture of the country in the form of several rituals, including animal fights. The
problem is still on a hike which is not only effecting the reputation of country world wide,
but also having several negative consequences on the society. In advanced/ civilized countries animal welfare is being addressed by solid and comprehensive legislation which are lacking in our constitution.
BRC has taken initiative to tackle the problem through legislative course, with a hope that the rising malevolence could
be curved through a legal prosecution, which is only possible by addressing the loop holes of the law and effectiveness of
the enforcement agencies. The cruelty to animals is caused by:
Animals used for medicine
Wild animals like musk deer is used for afrodiaziac medicine, owl for its blood, antelope for their horns and members of carved and carnivores for their skin are used in medicine and different other traditional purposes. It is proved scientifically that the materials taken from animals have little positive effect on the problem for which they are used; and there are some more appropriate synthetic analogues available for the same purpose.
Capturing of live animals and their young ones is also a common practice. Bear cub poaching from wild is a common example of it. During the process, poachers capture bear cubs by killing their mothers. This activity not only declines the adult bear population but also results in a serious blow on new recruitments. These bears are then used in different painful activities.
Animals in Painful Activities
Wild animals have been used for baiting like baits of “Snake and Mongoose” in which both animals get badly hurt. In street shows it is common observations that monkeys are forced to dance and show tricks according to the instructions of the owner. These tricks have been learned by it after receiving a ruthless beating. Another example of animals in pain is the horrible condition of animals in mobile zoos and circuses, where animals are used for entertaining public but always kept underfed and in bad housing conditions, inflicting pain and stress on them.
The bear cubs brought from the wild are sold in black market. The Qalanders (nomadic gypsies) train them to dance. During training animal has to obey its master, otherwise it has to face merciless beating. As a first bustle, Qalanders pierce a small metal ring in the nose of a bear cub and not allow the wound to heal. This metal ring hangs about in its nose for whole of its life. As a second step of pain, they take out the incisors and canine teeth, and the claws of bear cub. The cub is then forced to learn dancing on a red hot iron plate and then practice it in street shows. A bear cub after the age of 5-6 years is trained to fight against a pair of bull terrier dogs. These dogs are produced by the crossbreeding of bulldogs and lighter terriers. Bear baiting was introduced by the British rule in seventeenth century. Before the British introduction of this game in the area, the qalanders used to earn their by making these bears dance in street shows. The British ruler encouraged the qalanders to bait their bears to a pair of dog, being imported in to India. The feudal landlords followed the path of the British rulers and eagerly adopted this “sport” just to strengthen their hold in their area. The sport becomes a regular event of the winter festivals and “melas” (village fairs) and “urs” (festive event) at different dargahs (shrine of important religious personalities).
Rules of the Game
A tethered, clawless bear is pegged with the help of a 3-5 meter long rope. Then a pair of furious, strong and well fed dogs is set upon the bear for three minutes. The bear has to defend itself from the dogs, the dogs attack on the sensitive areas of bear, like, mouth, chin or muzzle. If dogs force the bear to roll and bear could not defend itself then the dogs are declared as winners. If in first attack bear defeats the dogs then it has to face another fresh pair of dogs. This can be repeated many times.
If the bear manage to stand on its feet and dog owner decide that his dogs are unable to defeat the bear then the bear is declared as the winner.
Bears are the natural forest guards but the ruthless and cruel activities have already resulted in the extinction of one bear species, i.e., Baluchistan Black Bear (Mum, Ursus thibetanus gedrosianus; endemic, critically endangered, CR C2a ( i ); D). The other two species are vulnerable/ endangered (VU C1, Asiatic Black Bear or Himalayan Black, Ursus thibetanus thibetanus;) or critically endangered (CR C2a ( i ); D, Himalayan Brown Bear (Ursus arctos isabellinus). It is disturbing to know that there is a higher population of the bears in illegal possession than that in surviving in the wild. When a reasonable population of bear was present in the forests of the northern areas, no one was courageous enough to spoil the forests.
But now after ruthless killing of bear and poaching of the bear cubs, the forests are open to all sorts of exploitation through the hands of the timber mafia, cutting down the trees fearlessly. The decrease in the trees cover, not only destroys the environment, but also leads to socioeconomic problems in area.
These painful activities are responsible for not only inflicting pain to the concerned animal/ animals but also result in a decline in the wild populations of the species, leading it to vulnerable/ endangered / extinction status. Such activities are indirectly effecting the survival of the other animal species and the forests, which in its turns affects the water cycle and ultimately the total environment and the human survival. These cruel activities are also affecting our social values and norms directly by provoking criminal thoughts in the youth.
Legal Position in Pakistan
The baiting of animals is banned in Pakistan under the Prevention of Cruelty Act, 1890. However, the department responsible for ensuring the implementation of this law has been closed and hence the act has becomes ineffective.
Under the Punjab Wildlife Acts, 1974, the black bear can not be kept in houses and the purchase or sale of black bears is prohibited. The act also protects the species as Minor Acts, under sub section (6-C), which is read as under:
a) Penalty for baiting or inciting animals to fight
b) Incites by animal, or
c) Aids or abets and such incitement or baiting.
He shall be punished with fine which may extend to fifty rupees.
Under the section 21 of the act, the violation of any provisions of sections 9,10,11,12,13,14,15 and 28 shall be punishable with imprisonment, which may extend to a period of two years or with a fine, which may extend to five thousand rupees, or both, subject to minimum imprisonment of one year and a fine of one thousand rupees and suspension of license or permit granted or issued to him under this Act for the period of five years”.
This act can be only implemented with the help of wildlife authorities. No member of the civil society or non-governmental organization can approach any court without the help of Provincial Wildlife Department. The Punjab Wildlife Act, 1974
clearly states under the section 33 that every officer or any other person authorized by the government in this behalf shall be competent to prevent by all lawful means the commission of any offence under this act while section 34 states that cognizance of any office under this Act shall not be taken by any court except on the complaint of the officer or any person authorized by Government in this behalf. The act proclaims under section 35 that no court inferior to that of a Magistrate of the first class shall take cognizance of an offence under this act.
Government can help in curbing bear baiting/ poaching as per provisions of sections 26, 27 and 31, which are read as:
Section 26. Any officer authorized by Government in this behalf, may seize any wild animal, dead or alive.
Section 27. Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, the officer authorized in this behalf may sell any property seized under section 26 which is subject to speedy and natural decay and May, subject to the determination of the rights thereto; deal with the proceeds in such manner as may be prescribed.
Section 31. (1) Any officer authorized in this behalf may, without orders from a magistrate and without a warrant, arrest any person against whom a reasonable suspicious exists of has having been concerned in any offence under this Act.
(2) Every officer making an arrest under this section shall, without delay and subject to the provisions of this act as to release on bond, take or send person arrested before the magistrate having jurisdiction in the case or before the officer–in-charge of the nearest police station.
Capturing or poaching of bear cub
Poaching of bear cub has been prohibited, in Pakistan, according to the following Acts:
- North West Frontier Province, Conservation and Management Act, (1975).
- Punjab Wildlife Protection, Preservation, Conservation and Management Act, (1974).
- Sindh Wildlife Protection Ordnance, (1972).
In year 2001, President General Pervaiz Musharraf passed a directive, according to which all bears confiscated from bear baiting events should be sent to Pakistan Bear Sanctuary situated at Kund, which is read as:
No – 2/15/2001 - imp. Soft (ext) no – 10/ 92 / P – IV addressing all the relevant authorities in Pakistan and states that bearbaiting must be stopped and bears involved should be confiscated and shifted immediately to WSPA bears sanctuary at Kund Park, NWFP.
Religious Point of View
Qura’an and Sunna very clearly regards the setting of animals upon each other to fight as illegal in Islam.
The Holy Qura’an Allah Says: “O’ Believers Allah will try you out through the hunting what will you do with your hands and spear so that he can find out who is frightened of Him without seeing, and the one who cross the limit will face a great rebuke.” (Al Qura’an 5, 94)
The Holy Prophet (PBUH) said; “Whoever kills a sparrow or any thing bigger then that without a just cause, Allah will hold him accountable on the Day of Judgment.” The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) also said; “All creatures are family (Ayal) of God: and he loves the most those who are the most beneficent to his family.”
(Narrated by Anas. Mishkat Al-Masahib, 3: 1392; quoted from Bukhari)
Loop-Holes in the Existing Law
The flowing loop-holes exists in the existing laws relating animal welfare.
1. Ineffective Punishment: According to the law the maximum possible fined liable to be imposed on an offender is grossly insufficient (just Pak. Rs. Fifty) to keep the offender away from this brutal practice. The amount of the maximum and minimum fine needs to be revised. The imposition of imprisonment should also be revised and raised to maximum possible level to make the law more effective.
2. Absence of Enforcement Agency: The Department legally responsible for implementation of the Cruelty Act, i.e., Anti- Cruelty Department (Mehakma-i-Insidad-i-Berehmi), does not exist now, and its powers have not been delegated to any other department.
Thus for all practical purposes the Act is suspended and can not be handled under the court of law. The fact of the matter is that up till now no case has been filed and processed by the department or presented to high court or magistrate for punishments. Moreover not a single punishment has been announced or implemented by the court or wildlife department.
Our Legal Stand
Under the present analysis of the situation, BRC is of the opinion that a writ petition may be filled against the concerned department as well as the provincial government praying for the implementation and explanation of the Punjab Wildlife Act 1974.
It also may be specified through ruling of Honorable High Court that “Bear Baiting” should be strictly prohibited and punishment be revised to make these more effective as the presently proposed punishment under the provisions of the said act are not sufficient to effectively check the crime.
We can also pray for the confiscation of the bears detained in the private custody. Our legal team is working to revise the existing law.
Through the order of the Honorable High Court of Lahore petition must be written against the culprits and Wildlife Department, to fulfill their duties according to rules. To get intention, we have been filed a writ petition in the said court since November, 2007 which is in process.