The Punjab Wildlife Protection and Parks Department has decided to computerise the data of all animals and birds in zoos and breeding centres across the province through electronic tagging. The move aims to prevent the illegal smuggling of these rare creatures.

In the first phase, e-tags will be put on animals and birds being kept in public zoos and wildlife parks. Confirming the news, Punjab Wildlife Protection and Parks Department Deputy Director Muhammad Naeem Bhatti said that the department has held several meetings in this regard.

After e-tagging animals in public parks and zoos, the department will move onto cataloguing the data for animals in the private sector.

E-tagging wildlife is part of the Clean and Green Punjab campaign and the project will be headed by senior official Mian Hafeez. Overall, the province has four zoos, 17 wildlife parks and 130 registered breeding centres.

Data from government zoos and wildlife parks has already been collected while data from private breeding centres is currently being compiled. The Punjab Wildlife Protection & Parks Department has directed all district wildlife officers to collect breeding data from their respective areas. Lahore District Wildlife Officer Tanveer Janjua has initiated work in this regard and has collected 80% of the data from breeding centres in Lahore.

The department does not have any definite statistics on the various types of wildlife present in the province. This is also the first time that a record of the animals kept at government and non-government centres will be collected.

Wildlife officials say that computerising the data in breeding centres will help them ascertain the exact number of birds and animals in the province. Further, it will be compulsory for district wildlife officers to visit such centres two or three times a year to verify the number of animals present. In addition, the tags will also alert officials when a bird or animal has been sold, making it easier for them to track it.

Wildlife officials stated that this step will help in curbing the illegal smuggling of rare birds and animals in Punjab. Bhatti maintained that the department is also setting up the province’s first geographical information system (GIS) lab for e-tagging and the computerisation of wildlife data. The lab will also be linked with the Punjab Wildlife Department’s regional offices.

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