Lonely Sri Lankan Elephant Kaavan, to be released from Islamabad zoo under court order.

Lonely Sri Lankan Elephant Kaavan, to be released from Islamabad zoo under court order.

Lonely Sri Lankan Elephant Kaavan, to be released from Islamabad zoo under court order.

Written by Staff Writer

23 May, 2020 | 12:57 pm

Bringing a hopeful end to a four-year-long animal rights campaign to free the Sri Lankan Elephant held under inhumane conditions in a zoo in Pakistan.

The High court of Islamabad ruled on Thursday to finally release the elephant from captivity into a suitable sanctuary.

The Sri Lankan Elephant named Kaavan was donated to Pakistan by the Sri Lankan government in 1985 when he was one year old. The Elephant has lived in an enclosure all his life at the Marghazar zoo in Islamabad.

Living in an enclosure inadequate to hold such a large animal, had evidently taken a toll on the animal’s mental and physical health as it has shown violent tendencies in the past that lead to the creature being chained and constrained.

The debilitated creature became the poster of a campaign that spanned years and was championed by American pop icon Cher for the past four years.

The campaign showed that the elephant was held in a small enclosure with only a small pool of water to help it during the hot summer temperatures that would rise to 40 degrees at times.

The Elephant spent most of his 30-year-long stay at the zoo alone, while its mate, Saheli, brought to the zoo in 1990, died in 2016 leaving the elephant in further distress.

The Islamabad court ruled that the animal had been treated cruelly and was subject to unimaginable pain and suffering at the hands of the zookeepers and ordered for the elephant to be transferred, under the Wildlife ordinance of 1979, to a suitable sanctuary in or outside Pakistan under the consultation of experts from Sri Lanka and with the permission of the High Commission of Sri Lanka in Pakistan.

The most likely option for the Pakistani authorities would be to relocate the elephant to another zoo with better facilities or transfer the elephant to the care of a foreign country, since there are no sanctuaries in Pakistan that have the vegetation and conditions suitable for the survival of Asian Elephants, Speaking to News First, an expert in the study of Elephants, Managing Trustee of the Bio-diversity and Elephant conservation trust and member of the IUCN’s Asian Elephant Specialist Group, Jayantha Jayewardene said.

Pakistan does not have an elephant population in the country and Kaavan is one of the only captive elephants in Pakistan, He said.

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