Hannah Baker, spokeswoman for Four Paws, told Dawn, “You can see a large team of vets watching the partially sedated elephant and monitoring its vitals.” Many big cats and bears have been pushed with Four Paws before.
Lonely elephant was sedated before being shifted into a special cage
The 35-year-old bull elephant was the subject of years of lobbying by campaigners for animal rights who had long advocated for moving the lone elephant. The movement for elephant liberation was led by American pop star Cher and her group Free the Wild, while journalist and writer Eric Margolis contributed over $400,000 to help Four Paws cover travel costs.
Kaavan’s partner, Saheli, died in 2012, and he has been alone ever since. Islamabad Zoo conditions were so poor that the Islamabad High Court eventually ordered all animals in the zoo to be moved to better homes in May of this year.
In order to brace for the 10-hour trip, Kaavan had almost four months of veterinary treatment and special training. The vets took him off the sugar-cane-only diet and proceeded to feed him nutritionally healthier foods such as fruits and vegetables, which made Kaavan lose about 200 kilogrammes.
The squad of Four Paws, who would follow Kaavan, said that his cracked feet needed to recover and that he had to treat the cuticles. This health issues can escalate if neglected.
Kaavan in Cambodia awaits a welcoming committee. Prime Minister Imran Khan has instructed his office to ensure that Kaavan gets all the treatment that has been given to him, according to Special Assistant to PM Malik Amin Aslam on Climate Change.
Kaavan will take tentative steps towards a new life at the sanctuary in Cambodia. Initially, he will be put in a 10-acre facility where he will be able to see and even handle other elephants with his trunk.
“Kaavan is a fortunate fellow. At this very recent species suitable sanctuary, there are three female elephants and he will be the first male elephant there. Before being permitted to openly walk in the 25,000-acre sanctuary and forage for himself, he can get acquainted with the grass and plains. And we never know, we could even have Kaavan’s baby later on,’ said Hannah Baker.
Asian elephants can live up to 80 years in captivity. “But it was a tough life for Kaavan. We can only hope that he can survive for a long time with good treatment,’ said Ms Baker, crossing her fingers.
As the only Asian elephant at Islamabad zoo, Kaavan has wowed tourists for more than three decades. “While Amin Aslam said that retiring Kaavan after 35 years in captivity was a sad but right step, Senator Faisal Javed said in an apologetic tone, “It is a shame that we were unable to care for Kaavan, the affectionate elephant who brought so much joy to the lives of both children and adults.