Govt issues permit to transfer elephant Kaavan to Cambodia

Statesman Report

ISLAMABAD: The federal government on Monday issued a permit to transfer the country’s only Asian elephant, Kaavan, to Cambodia.

The plight of Kaavan, an overweight, 35-year-old bull elephant has drawn international condemnation and highlighted the woeful state of Islamabad’s zoo, where conditions are so bad a judge in May ordered all the animals to be moved.

The permit was issued by the Ministry of Climate Change. The Cambodian government, earlier in October, issued a relocation permit for the transfer of the elephant from the Islamabad zoo to a local sanctuary. The permit is valid till April, 2021.

Sources claim the elephant will be flown to Cambodia on November 29.

Kaavan has been at the Islamabad Zoo for 35 years and the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had decided to transfer Kaavan to Cambodia, where he will be housed in Cambodia’s famous elephant sanctuary.

Earlier, a team of international vets using tranquilliser darts, flatbreads and the soothing lyrics of Frank Sinatra conducted a medical examination on Kaavan, ahead of his planned move to Cambodia.

Outrage over Kaavan, gifted by Sri Lanka in 1985, went global a few years ago after California vet Samar Khan saw him chained in his enclosure during a visit to Islamabad.

She launched an online petition that eventually caught the attention of American pop icon Cher.

Kaavan’s mate Saheli, who arrived also from Sri Lanka in 1990, died of gangrene in 2012. It is hoped Kavaan might eventually be able to re-partner once he is moved to Cambodia.

Tireless efforts by a team of local animal advocates resulted in May’s court ruling, under which Kaavan was supposed to be moved within 30 days, though the deadline was extended.