Kaavan; from national treasure to national trash

Kaavan, the Sri Lankan elephant at the Islamabad Zoo in Pakistan. Image courtesy of Friends of Islamabad Zoo.
By: Asem Mustafa

The punishment as expected is ‘evaded’ as there is no one who could pin point the culprit for the murders done in the name of animal welfare.

Thirty-five years of captivity added with torture, chains and inadequate facilities, the lone Asiatic elephant Kaavan in ‘Islamabad the beautiful’ gets his freedom after battling tooth and nail.

It was the Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minallah who came as ‘savior’ for Kaavan and not the Marghzar Zoo which minted money from the creature for over three decades.

Also read: Three decades of captivity; Board sits down for Kaavan release to sanctuary

Kaavan came a yearling from Sri Lankan government to government of Pakistan as a goodwill gesture. This exchange was to foster good ties and relationship between the two governments but authorities in Pakistan were too busy and overlooked the gift which raised enough hue and cries globally.

United States pop icon termed the release of Kaavan as one of the greatest achievements while all concerned about Kaavan are over joyed as Kaavan leaves the ‘killer pit’ for good.

Also read: Half a century in captivity Cassowary survives all his handlers

Kaavan was partnered with a female named Seheli sent from Bangladesh in 1990 but the female died in 2012 owing to unknown reasons. It is rumoured the neglect faced by the female elephant resulted in her death and the concerned animal lovers believed that it was the gift Pakistan never deserved. The death of an elephant was the price paid as a ‘sacrifice’ to people who had bigger egos than that of the elephant.

President of Pakistan, Dr Arif Alvi along with first lady visited Kaavan and lauded the court decision that came in Kaavan’s favour.

The president spoke about animal rights and wished Kaavan a happy life in Cambodia. Kaavan stands officially retired from ‘service to Pakistan’ . Over Three decades of misery has finally come to an end and those who have worked for his release for years deserve all kudos.

Kaavan wet eyes which were in the past referred as ‘elephant tears’ is now bringing tears to many as ‘voice of the voiceless’ is finally heard at the highest of the level.

Also read: Carers who can save animal lives in zoos

The world watched in agony as Kaavan banged his head on the walls and moved it side to side for hours and hours relentlessly making people believe that there is mental health issues with the creature.

Zoos in Pakistan have a horrible history as people making it to this service with connections and graft enjoy the perks on the name of service to the animals while in actuality they are one who are the mass murderers of the these creatures which have no voice to share the trauma they go through with each and every day of their captivity.

These zoo keepers should be monitored for the wealth they made from selling these creatures in the black market. A simple probe can unearth this racket which has been operating for decades unchecked.

The reason only being the humans in ‘land of the pure’ have very little rights these poor voiceless creatures come way down at the very bottom.

Also read: Deathly compliance with defiance

They are kept in small congested places and money is minted each day on their names which also needs to be audited as ‘standard practice’ by people who fear to be checked is with maintaining two log books. The two books have a variance that is unmatched as one is with the cartels and the other is for befooling the authorities.

The exotic animals ending up with rich elite is a booming business and many elites in Pakistan have a passion to keep lions as pets.

The creature which has eluded these elites is the ‘wolf’ which is untamable and the current hobby of the rich is to get the hybrid which has a temperament of its own and is a dangerous and unpredictable creatutre.

Animals have been in captivity for decades in Pakistan and the sad tale of Cassowary is an eye opener as the bird has been in captivity for over half a century in Lahore Zoo.

The theft of animal rations is an established norm. The stealing of baby chicks and animals from their mothers is also an unchecked practice. This theft results in trauma to the animals and in captivity they refuse to breed and ultimately die as the touch of human destroys their lives.

The black market has exotic birds where do they come from the authorities must check as who is behind the trade.

Not long ago the ducks from Governor House were sold to the common market and their sale made headlines.

The death of the lions is also on the social media where poor creatures were burnt and later died owing to the trauma they went through. The video show people who are beating and burning the lions and they are easily identifiable. Will they get the punishment for the murders? This scribe leaves the debate open.

The punishment as expected is ‘evaded’ as there is no one who could pin point the culprit for the murders done on the name of animal welfare.

The giraffes imported in the animal exchange programme all died as they reached the zoos in Pakistan and their skins were probably sold to people who had clients taking pride in wearing giraffe skin jacket or shoes for that matter.

People in Pakistan especially ‘elite’ have strange passions to make a gaudy display of their wealth. One political party with lion as symbol had the presence of live lion in a cage in their political rallies and the fate of the lion is not known as it is believed it died due to stress long ago.

The animal welfare organization Four Paws and all others who raised their voice for Kaavan deserve medals for coming to the rescue of the creature which was a ‘national treasure’ but was treated as ‘national trash’.

The writer is Special Correspondent at The Dayspring