Kaavan leaves for new home in Cambodia after spending three decades in Islamabad Minister, animal rights activists, civil society bid farewell to Kaavan, wish him a joyous life ahead

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Zubair Qureshi

Adviser to Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam on Sunday hoped Pakistan’s lone Asian elephant Kaavan would find a peaceful, happy and normal life in his new home, a Cambodian sanctuary for Asian elephants.
Malik Amin Aslam was addressing a press conference inside Kaavan’s 500-sq metre enclosure where the international group for animal rights was busy in making preparations for Kaavan’s final release and onward journey.
Senator Faisal Javed Khan was also present on the occasion. They lauded the efforts of the FPI team head Dr Amir Khalil for making possible the seemingly impossible project.
Amin Asalm replying to the journalists’ questions on the occasion said the Marghazar Zoo would be transformed into an open enclosure zoo of international standards where the visitors would be able to see Pakistan’s indigenous animals and birds.
He said Kaavan will initially be kept in a 10-acre enclosure for some time in the company of three female elephants and later he will be set free into a 25,000 acre vast sanctuary. “Elephant is basically a herd animal and it makes no difference what facilities we could provide him. His main requirement is a mate to raise a family,” said Amin Aslam while replying to a question.
Senator Faisal Javed Khan also spoke on the occasion and paying rich tributes to FPI, Free the Wild, Friends of Islamabad Zoo and civil society and media persons said it was an historic day in the history of the zoo as its pride inmate was leaving for good but for a better, happy and peaceful life. “We are also feeling embarrassed that we could not take care of Kaavan,” said Faisal Javed.
He held the previous governments responsible for the miserable condition of Kaavan and regretted animals and birds were not properly taken care of by them.
Later, Kaavan after spending some 35 years of hardships, misery and solitary confinement in a 500-sq metre enclosure finally left for his new home Cambodia’s sanctuary for the Asian elephants.
The news of the elephant being shifted to Cambodia spread like wildfire and the local residents, families, particularly the national and the international media made a beeline to the Marghazar Zoo of Islamabad which is located at the foot of the Margalla Hills.
They had arrived in the morning despite the fact Kaavan’s transfer from the zoo to the Islamabad International Airport completed later in the day. One could see them saying goodbye to their ‘dearest’ friend of childhood days with tears in their eyes.
The zoo administration and the Four Paws International (FPI) kept the zoo gates closed in the morning unless the 5.1-ton heavy elephant was darted and shifted from one big crate to a smaller one constructed for his air travel. However, later seeing the people’s passion to have a final glance of the elephant they opened the zoo gates. After the transport crate was placed on the truck, one could see tears rolling down Dr Amir Khalil’s cheeks who described it a very important moment of his life. People of Pakistan have reposed trust in us and this feeling of deep love has overwhelmed me, said Dr Amir while replying to a question of Pakistan Observer.
Kaavan was taken in the transport box to the airport where a Russian aircraft Ilyushin Il-76 was waiting to airlift him along with the FPI team.