Islamabad: Pakistan has launched an investigation into the alleged smuggling of wild animals, including elephants and lions, from Tanzania in southeastern Africa.
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) launched the probe in Karachi after a request by Interpol which had been approached by the Tanzanian government, Dawn News reported.
The FIA wrote a letter to the heads of the Karachi Zoological Gardens and Safari Park, asking them about the "unlawful export" of wild animals from Africa.
The National Central Bureau -- the local arm of Interpol -- asked for complete information about the import of wild animals by Irfan Ahmed, proprietor of Karachi-based Osaka Traders Ltd., who was alleged to have smuggled several wild animals from Tanzania into Pakistan.
The heads of the government-run facilities were asked to submit a report stating whether such wild animals were in Karachi. Interpol also asked about the credentials of Ahmed.
The zoo director replied to the FIA that the facility never had an official agreement with Osaka Traders. It said four lions bought by the company were the property of the Sindh wildlife department. Regarding four elephants, the director said they were bought by the Safari Park.
The FIA contacted the customs and the wildlife department, and it was confirmed that Ahmed was an animal importer.
The four elephants reportedly arrived from Tanzania in 2009 under an agreement with the now-defunct city district government of Karachi, while the four lions were confiscated at the Karachi airport by the customs in 2010 because the animals were allegedly brought in on an expired permit.
The lions, which arrived from Germany, first landed at Islamabad airport and then in Karachi.
The customs found both the importer and the national flag carrier guilty and imposed penalties on them. The animals were declared government property and kept at the zoo as the wildlife department had no facility to keep them.
The company, however, challenged the verdict and a case has been pending for the past many months.
Another report said the Tanzanian government had gifted the elephants for the children of Karachi. It was not clear whether this was being probed by the Pakistani authorities.