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Kawaan likely to be shifted to sanctuary

By Mobarik A Virk
September 21, 2017

Islamabad :The chances that ‘Kawaan’, the poor male elephant, lodged in the Marghazar Zoo at the foothills of Margalla hills, may finally be freed in a safe sanctuary seems to becoming brighter as there is an intervention for his safety at international level. 

Mark Cown, a representative of ‘Free the Wild’, an international organization working for welfare of animals in distress, flew down from London, UK, when he came to know about the conditions of the poor beast and how it was kept chained as it showed signs of insanity. 

“I have seen ‘Kawaan’ and am certainly pleased that he is in much better condition now. Far better than I thought he might be. But the fact is that he is too old. He needs to be rested now,” Mark Cown said while talking to the President of the National Press Club (NPC) Shakeel Anjum and the President of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), Afzal Butt, Tuesday evening. 

He said that his organization had already been approaching the relevant officials in Sri Lanka and Cambodia where ‘Kawaan’ could be kept in far better natural habitat while under constant observation. 

“I visited the Zoo here and found it to be a very good facility. The enclaves for various animals and birds are of appropriate size. ‘Kawaan’ also appeared to be much better without chains. But the fact is that the staff of the Zoo need to be better trained in understanding the animals and birds and how they need to be treated in captivity,” Mark Cown said. 

He, with the coordination of British High Commission had already met with a group of Senators to discuss the issue of ‘Kawaan’ as well as improvements required in the Marghazar Zoo. 

“The legislators were very appreciative and supportive in our discussions and promised to extend whatever help is required for relocation of ‘Kawaan’ and improvement of Marghazar zoo. I also met the Mayor of Islamabad, Mr Ansar Aziz, who also is the Chairman of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to discuss the matter. Both the meetings were productive and I really appreciate for the positive response they extended to me,” Mark Cown said. 

“I also watched the people and children visiting the place to be very happy and enjoying. I am against keeping the animals and birds in captivity but at the same time I fully understand the importance of zoos in cities as these provide an opportunity to children and young people to watch them and learn about them. But most important is to understand their mental and psychological conditions while in captivity, away from their natural habitat and how it affects them physically,” Mark Cown said. 

“We are ready to extend expertise to train local staff of the zoo in Islamabad or any other zoo in Pakistan because it is most important for the welfare and wellbeing of animals in captivity that the staff and the vets supervising them should be fully aware of their duties and responsibilities,” he added. 

He said that the issue of relocating ‘Kawaan’ to a suitable sanctuary in Sri Lanka or in Cambodia was also discussed and it appeared that some money, around Rs. 800,000/- would be required for the purpose. 

“We are too eager to raise that kind of money, which I think would not be a problem for us and keeping in mind the condition of ‘Kawaan’, we would be in a hurry to complete the formalities as quickly as possible,” he said.   Mayor Sheikh Ansar Aziz, while talking to ‘The News’, said he was very pleased to meet with Mr Mark Cown and discuss the issue of ‘Kawaan’. 

“The international community should be satisfied that ‘Kawaan’ is in safer hands now. After establishing of the Local Government System in Islamabad, ‘Kawaan’ was unchained on my directions as the first step,” Ansar Aziz said. 

“We appreciate international community for its concerns and offers of assistance for ‘Kawaan’. We will take into consideration all these offers and try to take benefit of it wherever found necessary in the best interests of ‘Kawaan,” he added.