Still no telling where Kavaan is headed

Like the Wildlife Board, the Four Paws team is convinced that Kavaan should be shifted to a sanctuary in Cambodia

The good news is that the evacuation of captive animals from the Murghzar zoo ordered by Islamabad High Court is near complete. Kavaan, the only Asian elephant in Pakistan, and two bears are its only residents now.

Four Paws team leader Dr Amir Khalil told The News on Sunday on Thursday he had transported two wolves and some monkeys to the Rawalpindi zoo.

Dr Khalil who arrived in the country a month ago to treat the animals said he had asked for and been granted a two-month extension in his visa.

He and Faryal, a Pakistnai volunteer, also said Kavaan was getting better. Khalil said he had developed a bond with the elephant. He said the pachyderm had also grown calmer. On Friday, he was asked by IHC to render his final advice on Monday regarding the desirability of relocating the elephant.

Khalil plays music on his cell phone as he approaches the beast in the water pound and breathes air into the elephant’s tusk. The elephant breathes it back with a playful noise.

Some of the volunteers bring it trays of fresh fruits and sugarcane. A loose group, including some foreigners, has made a routine of visiting the zoo and spending time with the elephant. The fence confining Kavaan has been removed.

“Kavaan needs attention. Earlier, someone would come to his enclave in the morning and dump the same food on a daily basis. Imagine what will happen to you if you are given the same food every day for years,” he says.

He says the sugar level of the elephant has improved and it has shed some of the unhealthy weight.

Wildlife Management Board Islamabad (WMBI) Chairman Dr Anis-ur Rehman, earlier said: “We have conveyed the opinion of the experts committee of our board to the government. The elephant needs to be shifted.

“The dancing bears too should be shifted to a sanctuary in Ghora Gali in the Punjab or Nathiya Gali in the KP. The team of foreign experts found the Ghora Gali sanctuary adequate. Unfortunately, neither the Punjab government nor the KP government is keen on hosting these bears.”

He says the bear sanctuary in Chakwal is the best in the country. “The court had wanted to enlist its manager an amicus curiae (friend of the court) in the zoo case but he did not agree,” said Dr Rehman.

“I think the bears should be shifted to a sanctuary in Jordan,” says Dr Khalil, who is treating them. “One of the bears has lost its teeth,” he notes. He says it is going to be very hard to bring these bears back to normalcy. Currently, one of the bears is being kept in what was formerly the lion’s cage.

The Ayub Park Zoo in Rawalpindi has finally agreed to keep the wolves. Following an audit, the Four Paws team was satisfied with the arrangements and transported the animals.

The WMBI staff helping the international team taking care of the animals are not allowed to speak to the media. For his part, Dr Khalil appeared to be of the view on Thursday that the elephant needed to be in the company of elephants to be healthy and agree with the Wildlife Board that Kavaan should be shifted to the sanctuary in Cambodia.

After a spokesperson for the Ministry of Climate Change was reported as saying the government might not agree to sending Kavaan abroad,

Dr Rehman only said that the matter was now between the court (IHC) and the government.

State Minister for Climate Change, Zartaj Gul Wazir, who had earlier agreed to talk to TNS on the subject has nothing to say any longer while the matter is sub judice (before court).

Still no telling where Kavaan is headed