Fact-check: True. Carcasses of animals left to rot at Rahim Yar Khan’s wildlife park
Four officials confirm that the dead animals had been lying in a room of the park for several years without proper disposal.
Updated Thursday Aug 17 2023
Trigger warning: The contents of this story may cause distress to some readers.
As per recurring online claims, the carcasses of animals and birds have been left out in the open at a government-run wildlife park in Rahim Yar Khan, Punjab, and no proper arrangements have been made for the disposal or burial of the remains.
The claim is accurate.
On August 7, a Facebook user posted a video which filmed the carcasses of a grey langur, a peacock, an Indian gazelle and several birds in a room at the wildlife park in Rahim Yar Khan.
“There seems to be no system in place to bury these dead animals,” a man can be heard saying in the video.
In the nearly-two minute footage, the camera then moves through the park to show caged animals without food and water, living in miserable conditions.
The post had been viewed nearly 400,000 times and liked over 700 times.
Geo Fact Check spoke to four officials, all of whom confirmed that the dead animals had indeed been lying in a room of the park for several years without proper disposal.
Geo Fact Check was also able to get hold of the post-mortem reports of two of the dead animals, which can be seen in the viral video.
According to the documents, the Indian gazelle was only 25 days old when it died in April 2021. Its body has been lying in a room in the park for the last two years.
The grey langur died in December 2022, after which its body was dumped in another room of the park, where it continues to remain.
In both post-mortem reports the wildlife authorities are advised to dispose of the dead bodies as per proper SOPs.
Mubeen Elahi, the Director General of the Wildlife and Parks Department in Punjab, admits to the negligence of the park administration for not burying the animals soon after their death.
“They should have disposed of the gray langur after the post-mortem but they did not,” Elahi told Geo Fact Check over the phone. However, he claimed that the carcasses were being kept for decomposition in a morgue to use later for research purposes.
When asked how the garbage-littered rooms could be classified as “morgue”, Elahi accepted that the rooms did not meet morgue standards.
“Ok. I agree, it cannot be called a morgue because inside a morgue there is temperature control to preserve the body,” Elahi said, “But here the dead animals' bodies were lying openly in trash.”
He further revealed that there is currently no animal care manual for the zoo, which would lay out rules for the management and care of the caged animals.
“We are drafting a zoo manual these days,” he said.
Geo Fact Check also reached out to the deputy director, assistant director and an in-charge at the wildlife park in Rahim Yar Khan.
All three officials reiterated Elahi’s claim that the dead bodies had been kept in a “morgue” for students of the Khwaja Fareed University of Engineering and Information Technology (KFUEIT) in Rahim Yar Khan, to use for research.
However, the claim was debunked by the University administration.
“We do not conduct research on dead animals,” Dr Majeeda Rasheed, an assistant professor at the zoology department at KFUEIT, told Geo Fact Check over the phone. “If they are putting it on us to save themselves then that is not good.”
The doctor further clarified that her students had not done any research till now on the dead animals, which can be seen in the video.
— With additional reporting by Fayyaz Hussain
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