‘Act of benevolence’: Business of setting free caged birds thriving in Lahore

LAHORE: The Punjab wildlife department has failed to curtail the sale of birds being held in cages despite a ban on the practice. In most of the cases, residents of Lahore and other cities and towns throughout the province purchase the birds and free them considering it an act of benevolence or to ‘cast away evil’.

On the streets of Gulberg, poachers  and  sellers can be seen selling four to five flock of birds on a daily basis. One of them is Saleem spotted standing at Zafar Ali Road with a bicycle and a cage. According to him, 150 to 200 birds are sold on a daily basis and he is able to earn Rs1,000 to Rs1,500 a day.

He revealed that he does not catch the birds himself and buys them from Lahore’s Tollinton market or around Data Darbar. He ends up saving Rs8 to Rs10 on every bird he sells. According to one family that frees these captured birds, the act of liberating the birds is a source of virtue and an act of charity. The family members say they feel a sense of gratification when they see the birds fly away from their confines.

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Those who cage the birds are aware of their wrongdoings, but say they are involved in the business to make a living. According to them around a million birds are caged every year in Lahore and freed after being sold. Hundreds of the animals also perish due to hunger, thirst and extreme exposure to the sun.

Nonetheless, the business continues in many cities including Lahore where people release caged brids with the intention of earning blessings.

Commenting on the issue, Jamia Naeemia Principal Dr Raghib Naeemi said catching Halal birds for food is permitted. He added that there is also nothing wrong with rescuing birds trapped in agony, but caging birds is a sin and against the teachings of Islam. “People who free birds should also help some poor or needy person,” he remarked.

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A Punjab wildlife official claimed that action is frequently taken against those who sell birds, but the problem arises when some species lack legal protection such as the crow and some of its genus.

Likewise, the Bajra, which looks like the sparrow, is not included in the schedule. However, the common sparrow whose population is decreasing cannot be caught or caged.


Those who cage birds are fined a small amount and the birds are taken from them to be freed, said the official, adding that the business cannot be eliminated with current efforts.

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    Original news : https://tribune.com.pk/story/1752253/1-act-benevolence-business-setting-free-caged-birds-thriving-lahore/