The Islamabad High Court (IHC) was told on Thursday that No Objection Certificates (NOC) or import permits have been received from Jordanian and Cambodia and two countries are ready to welcome the two brown rare Himalayan bears and the lone Asian elephant of Pakistan in their animals’ sanctuaries.
The two bears will be sent to the Princess Alia Foundation Al Ma’awa for Nature and Wildlife, Amman, Jordan while Kaavan will be shifted to Cambodia’s Elephants Wildlife Sanctuary as per the orders of the IHC.
These animals are currently kept in the Murghazar Zoo of Islamabad and the international animals’ welfare organization Four Paws International is looking after them with the cooperation of the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB).
In May this year, the IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah had ordered relocation of all the animals from the zoo as it was found that the animals were being treated harshly and there was no end to their miseries and death in the zoo.
Even after the court’s order two rare species of wild cats, a lion and a lioness lost their lives to the unprofessional and poorly trained officials of the zoo who were trying to shift them from the zoo.
The court after the lions’ death was reported, initiated contempt proceedings against the minister for climate change and other senior officials.
In Thursday’s proceedings, however it was transpired that both the NOC have been issued under the Convention on International Trade In Endangered Species (CITES) duly endorsed by the Jordanian and the Cambodian authorities.
The Cambodian government has however issued NOC for relocation of Kaavan to Four Paws International which is supervising as well as funding the entire project of the elephant’s relocation from Pakistan to Cambodia.
With issuance of the NOCs, relocation of the three endangered animals—two brown bears and the elephant— from Islamabad’s zoo is now a matter of days.
The court was informed by the Legal Consultant of the Four Paws, Owais Awan Advocate that Four Paws International’s Director of Project Dr Amir Khalil was currently in Austria and would be returning to Pakistan on Sunday, Oct 25.
Dr Khalil had arrived in Islamabad in August and spent the entire month of September in training and befriending Kaavan. Recently, he went to Vienna to sort out some issues with regard to getting cooperation and approval from other animals’ welfare organizations and the Board of Directors of Four Paws regarding modus operandi of Kaavan’s travel from Pakistan, etc.
Four Paws’ counsel further told the court in Dr Amir’s absence the animals are being looked after as per his instructions. He also informed the court that a huge crate has been constructed and will be shifted to the zoo shortly and after Dr Amir’s return the elephant’s training will begin with that crate. If everything goes well, Kaavan will be ready for travel to Cambodia by the end of November, he further said.
A large sized crate measuring 6.5 metre long, 3.6m high and 2.5m wide is being constructed and is in the final stage to be used for animal’s transfer from Islamabad to Phnom Penh.
The judge while expressing satisfaction on the arrangements for the animals’ relocation and the steps being taken to look after them in Dr Amir Khalil‘s absence sought a complete roadmap for the animals’ relocation and adjourned hearing till Nov 27.