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Relocation of zoo elephant to Cambodia sanctuary proposed

By Jamila Achakzai
July 18, 2020

Islamabad : An official committee of experts has recommended the relocation and retirement of elephant ‘Kavaan’ of the Islamabad Marghzar Zoo to a 25,000 acres wildlife sanctuary in Cambodia.

“The committee has argued that the sanctuary already houses elephants and is equipped with experts, who have relocated and rehabilitated over 80 elephants so far, would be the best choice,” focal person of the Ministry of Climate Change Muhammad Saleem told reporters.

The Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) had constituted on June 9 an eight-member committee for relocation of the elephant ‘Kavaan’ and other animals of the Marghzar Zoo to some other sanctuaries.

Complying with the direction of Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minallah, the IWMB notified the experts’ committee, comprising its WWF-Pakistan’s seniorthe director programme Pakistan as its chairman and biodiversity specialist Z. B. Mirza as co-chairman.

The Committee’s other members include Khyber Pakhtukhwa Wildlife Chief Conservator Dr Mohsin Farooq, Islamabad Zoo veterinary officer Dr Bilal Khilji, Dr Masoodul Haq of Bahria Zoo, Dr Tom Channarong Srisa of Ard Save the Elephant Foundation, Ms Nilanga Jaysinghe of IUCN, co-founder of Save the Elephant Foundation Derek Thompsan and representatives from M/o Climate Change as well as the Islamabad Zoo.

A meeting of IWMB, convened on July 13, reviewed various options for safe relocation/retirement of the elephant to comply with Islamabad High Court’s judgment issued on May 21.

“The meeting participants were of the view that the re-location options for the elephant ‘Kavaan’ must be considered after examining all parameters, such as the health of the animal, the logistics, suitability and facilities at the proposed re-location site and the agreement with the new site authorities amongst others.

“However, after elaborate examination of the various viable options the Board has decided, based on expert committee’s recommendations, to relocate/retire ‘Kavaan’ to a sanctuary in Cambodia under required due diligence and agreements,” said the ministry official.

He said Adviser to Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam had earlier hailed the decision of the Islamabad High Court and had acknowledged that under the circumstances it is sad step to take but the right one for the betterment of the ‘Kavaan’.

“Adviser Malik Amin stressed that any proposal in this regard for relocation and retirement of the elephant must be backed by adequate research and consideration of all factors,” he said.

He added that Malik Amin Aslam had also assured that Ministry of Climate Change would fully back and support all decisions relating to animals’ wellbeing.

The adviser had also highlighted that the prime minister had issued strong directions to the Ministry of Climate Change to provide all required support for implementation of the Court’s decisions.