Islamabad – Wildlife officials informed the court that government has decided to relocate the ailing elephant ’Kaavan’ to animal rehabilitation sanctuary in Cambodia, with only shipping remaining, while the crocodile at the zoo had been moved to a safer location.
Officials told the Islamabad high court (IHC) that all the arrangements has been finalised to repatriate, Kavaan, from Islamabad zoo to Cambodia. Chief Justice of IHC Athar Minallah heard the case related to the implementation of its order related to the transfer of animals from Marghzar Zoo to a safe place.
At the beginning of the hearing, Justice Minallah asked what efforts has been made to transfer the elephants and other animals. Wildlife officials informed the court that it had been decided to relocate Kavaan to Cambodia, with only shipping remaining, while the crocodile at the zoo had been moved to a safer location.
Chief Justice remarked that the power of man is not in to imprison the weak but to protect him. How can an animal survive if he he is sent to Alaska from a hot environment like Multan? Justice Minallah said that the government of Pakistan has accepted the court’s decision as he has read in the newspapers, the Prime Minister himself is taking interest in this matter which is commendable. “The power of man is not to imprison the weak, but to protect them,” Justice Minallah remarks.
When Chief Justice inquired about the fish, the Environment Secretary informed that the fish has been shifted to a safe place from the zoo today. The Chief Justice said that naturally the fish should be somewhere in the coastal areas of Sindh, the animals can survive in their natural climate.
In May this year, the court ordered the removal of all animals, including the rare elephants from Marghazar zoo. The court ruled that the Marghzar Zoo’s only elephant, Kavaan, had been treated cruelly and had suffered unimaginable hardships for the past three decades.
The Chairman of the Board of Wildlife Management was directed to make arrangements under the Wildlife Ordinance 1979 and was ordered to consult the Sri Lankan High Commissioner to relocate the elephant to a suitable location within 30 days. The court said the board could also seek the help of relevant experts of international organizations.
The Islamabad High Court had said in its judgment that the board would be bound to relocate other animals to their respective places within 60 days of receiving the court’s order.
Ordering the board headed by the chairman of the board of wildlife management to take over the management of the zoo, it was said that the chief commissioner of Islamabad and would co-operate with the board till the animals are relocated. The Ministry of Climate Change and Board members will be jointly responsible for the care of all animals until they are relocated to safer places.
Kavaan was gifted to the government of Pakistan by Sri Lanka in 1985. He was six years old at the time, but had been receiving complaints about being held in unfavorable conditions for more than 30 years. Kavaan’s condition has deteriorated and he is unable to walk. According to doctors, he is no longer able to travel.
International and national campaigns have been launched to protect Kavaan. The American singer-songwriter has also been at the forefront of the campaign, highlighting Kavaan case on Twitter in May, following a court ruling.
In 2015, Samar Khan, a Pakistani woman of American descent, first raised the issue of Kavaan and after seeing Kavaan’s condition at the Marghzar Zoo, she informed the public about his condition through an online petition.
After that, the online petition was signed by around four lakh people while a formal writ was also filed in the Islamabad High Court. A female elephant was also present as a companion for Kavaan, but after her death, his condition is deteriorating day by day.