Chief Justice of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) Justice Athar Minallah on Saturday approved a plan presented by the climate change ministry regarding relocation of the lone elephant of the Islamabad Zoo to a sanctuary for the elephants in Cambodia.
The Chief Justice noted that Prime Minister Imran Khan was also taking personal interest in relieving the animal of painful circumstances and remarked the court hoped the matter would be resolved soon.
Kaavan, the elephant, is being kept in chains in the Zoo and recently exhibited symptoms of mental illness, prompting global outrage over his treatment and a petition demanding his release that garnered over 400,000 signatures.
As the hearing started, the CJ of the IHC asked what progress had been made on transfer of Kaavan and other animals from the zoo.
The court had given the ministry a month to transfer the animals but the deadline passed without action.
The Secretary Ministry of Climate Change replied that the government was working to find someone to ship the elephant abroad. It had also considered sending the animal to Nepal, Sri Lanka or Cambodia and finally decided that the transfer to Cambodia was easier and cheaper.
When Justice Minallah asked how long it would take to transfer the elephant, the secretary said they are asking the finance ministry for money for visas etc. “It will take four weeks,” he added.
Kaavan and his poor living conditions were the subject of debate in Pakistan and around the world with people calling for better treatment for the elepha-nt.
A petition garnered over 200,000 signatures after it emerged he was being chained at the Zoo. The 35-year-old Asian elephant is said to be suffering from “mental illness” and without a better habitat his future is bleak even if a long-promised new mate finally arrives, experts have said.
Justice Minallah then asked what became of the alligators at the zoo. They have been transferred to a safe place, the secretary replied. But they should be transferred to some coastal area in Sindh, the chief justice remarked, adding that animals can only survive in their natural habitat.
“If an animal was born in Multan and sent to Alaska, how could it survive?” he asked.
The world is taking interest in the government of Pakistan’s treatment of animals, said Justice Minallah, adding that humans should use their strength to secure and comfort the weaker creatures instead of imprisoning them.