President Alvi, first lady say farewell to Kaavan
Farewells keep coming as Kaavan, the capital’s lone elephant set to leave for Cambodia on November 29, was given a farewell by President Dr Arif Alvi along with First Lady Samina Alvi, who especially visited the Murghzar Zoo in Islamabad on Tuesday.
Living in Islamabad for 35 years, Kaavan will be shifted to a sanctuary in Cambodia following the orders of the Islamabad High Court in view of his improper care due to the absence of natural habitat at the capital’s zoo.
Speaking on the occasion, President Alvi said the outstanding judgment passed by IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah was in line with the Islamic traditions of caring for animals and keeping them in an environment best suited to them. He said detaching young animals from their mothers was the biggest cause of their emotional distress.
The President expressed confidence that Kaavan would find happiness in Cambodia after being surrounded by his companion elephants. President Alvi appreciated the efforts of the Ministry of Climate Change and Islamabad Wildlife Management Board in effective implementation of IHC’s order on the relocation of Kaavan.
He stressed the need for raising awareness among masses about animal rights and environmental care.
The President called for implementation of Pakistan Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (1890) that provided a good basis for the protection of animals.
He emphasized on speeding-up the process of re-establishment of Islamabad Zoo for the children and citizens of Islamabad.
Amir Khalil, a vet from Austrian animal rescue organization Four Paws, in a briefing to President Alvi said Kaavan would be initially kept for a month at the Cambodian sanctuary, to be later shifted to a 25,000 acre forest area for his free movement.
He said his organization would move a request through Climate Change Ministry to the Civil Aviation Authority for a direct air route of the aircraft carrying Kaavan to cross over Sri Lanka instead of India.
Minister for Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam, State Minister Zartaj Gul and Austrian ambassador Nicolaus Keller were also present.
Later, Four Paws spokeswoman Marion Lombard told APP that on Nov 29, the preparations for Kaavan’s departure would start at 6 am, with sedation at 10 am and shifting to Nur Khan air base by 1pm. He will be airlifted by a Russian cargo aircraft Ilyushin Il-76 to Cambodia.
Equally popular name among children and adults, Kaavan, the male Asian elephant born in Sri Lanka in 1985 was gifted by Sri Lankan government to the then President of Pakistan. An elephant named Saheli was brought from Bangladesh in 1990, who remained as Kaavan’s partner until her death in 2012. Kaavan was temporarily chained by zookeepers in 2002 for his aggressive behavior.
The animal rights activists have been campaigning to free Kaavan and to treat the animals in a better way. On May 21, 2020, the Islamabad High Court ordered that all the animals, especially Kaavan, be immediately relocated to safe sanctuaries.
After Kaavan, two bears will also be relocated to Jordan on December 6 completing the process of relocation of all animals at the Zoo.