Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!
December 1, 2020

Kaavan arrives in Cambodia, greeted by US singer Cher


December 1, 2020

COMBODIA: Kaavan, the 35-year-old elephant, has been transferred to a wildlife sanctuary in Cambodia after his miserable condition at an Islamabad zoo sparked a global outcry. American singer Cher campaigned for his freedom for years.

Following years of public outcry and campaigning by Oscar-winning American singer and actor Cher, Kaavan has landed in Cambodia from Pakistan to start a new life in a local sanctuary.

The 35-year-old bull elephant's miserable condition in an Islamabad zoo had sparked an uproar from animal rights groups in the country and abroad. Cher was on the tarmac at the airport in Siem Reap to greet Kaavan, who made the journey on a special cargo plane.

"Kaavan was eating, was not stressed, he was even a little bit sleeping ... He behaves like a Frequent Flyer," said Amir Khalil, a vet with animal rescue organisation Four Paws, which spearheaded the relocation effort.

Dozens of wildlife workers used a winch and rope to load the sedated elephant into a custom-made crate before he was lifted into the cargo plane. "The flight was uneventful, which is all you can ask for when you transfer an elephant," Khalil added.

The Cambodian sanctuary houses more than 80 elephants and is equipped with experts and other related facilities.

Cher, who is financing half of the cost of Kaavan's journey, had also visited Pakistan to oversee the elephant's departure. She also met with Prime Minister Imran Khan and other government officials on Friday.

"Thanks to Cher and also to local Pakistani activists, Kaavan's fate made headlines around the globe and this contributed to the facilitation of his transfer," said Four Paws spokesman Martin Bauer.

Cher "has quite a big platform so we have really appreciated what she has done for Kaavan since 2016," he added.

Kaavan had been living in poor conditions in a small enclosure at Marghazar Zoo in Islamabad for more than three decades. His mate, Saheli, died in 2012, allegedly due to negligence and poor treatment by zoo authorities.

Noor Aftab adds from Islamabad: According to the Ministry of Climate Change, Kaavan set off on a nearly 10-hours journey from Pakistan to Cambodia in the wee hours of Monday morning on a specially chartered cargo plane from Russia.

In Cambodian wildlife sanctuary, Kaavan would initially be kept in a small designated section of the park with separating barrier between his place over 10-acre and the place where he could see other elephants in the wildlife sanctuary. Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam, who bade farewell to the elephant along with hundreds of people, wished Kaavan more joyful days throughout his rest of the life in Cambodia’s wildlife sanctuary. He said: “Though it’s a deeply sad moment for us to see the elephant leaving us amid heart-wrenching feelings of separation, we are sure about it being the right step to retire Kaavan after spending over three decades in captivity.” Transporting him to a place, where he would be with other elephants of his kind is undoubtedly the right decision that was also supported by Prime Minister Imran Khan, he said.

He recalled that following the Islamabad High Court’s order in May this year for Kaavan’s relocation to safer place, the eight-member expert committee was formed to propose a safer and more suitable place for relocation and retirement of the elephant.

The committee recommended an elephant sanctuary spanning over 25,000-acres in Cambodia as the most suitable place for relocation and retirement of Kavaan.

He highlighted that the elephant sanctuary in Cambodia already houses elephants and is equipped with experts, who have so far relocated and rehabilitated over 80 elephants. He pointed out that there are three female elephants at this fairly new appropriate sanctuary and he would be the first male elephant there.