For Pakistan’s lonely elephant Kaavan, freedom awaits in a Cambodia sanctuary

This photograph taken on June 30, 2016, shows Kaavan the elephant next to a moat at the Marghazar Zoo in Islamabad. Music icon Cher shared her delight after a Pakistani court ordered freedom for a lonely elephant, who had become the subject of a high-profile rights campaign backed by the US singer. (AFP)
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Updated 18 July 2020

For Pakistan’s lonely elephant Kaavan, freedom awaits in a Cambodia sanctuary

  • Efforts from animal rights activists, Pakistani government and music icon Cher led to Kaavan’s retirement
  • For 35 years, Kaavan was kept in increasingly deteriorating conditions in the Islamabad Zoo

RAWALPINDI: A Sri Lankan elephant who has lived in Pakistan since 1985 will soon be released to a highly revered animal sanctuary in Cambodia, confirmed a senior official of the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) on Saturday.
Kaavan the elephant’s retirement plan was finalized in an emergency meeting called by the board on July 13 after animal rights activists appealed to the federal government to provide relief to the long-suffering animal.
Once official, the decision was tweeted by Free the Wild (FTW), a non-profit established to fight animal captivity worldwide, on Friday, announcing that Kaavan would finally be released to the Elephant Nature Park in Cambodia.
Kaavan was gifted by the Sri Lankan government to Pakistan shortly after his birth. While he became an icon in Pakistan and was well-loved by the public, the conditions he was kept in increasingly deteriorated, making him look visibly distressed.
Petitions for his rescue began circulating in 2015 with accusations of gruesome neglect being lodged against the Islamabad Zoo. In 2016, music icon Cher got involved in the fight to free Kaavan, initiating multiple twitter hashtags and even performing songs for him while touring the world.
Cher joined forces with UK businessman Mark Cowne and wildlife photographer Gina Nelthorpe-Cowne to find FTW and begin fighting the fight for Kaavan, joined by a number of local Pakistani fighters ranging from lawyers to animal rights activists, zookeepers and veterinarians.
Chairman of the IWMB Dr. Anis ur Rahman spoke to Arab News over the phone about the joint effort to reach a decision to release Kaavan to Cambodia.
He pointed out the importance of the involvement of Pakistan’s federal government, saying it was “completely behind the move and fully supportive.”
Rahman also stated that “nothing could have moved forward without the explicit interest of the Chief Justice of Islamabad High Court who slowly, slowly over the last one year worked hard to make this happen.”
Going forward, the government will be instrumental in the planning and carrying out of the safe transport of Kaavan to Cambodia in a few months.
Rahman told Arab News that a technical team under the IWMB had been put in place for “the relocation of the elephant to the Cambodian wildlife sanctuary.”
“We want to ensure a totally safe relocation without any harm to Kaavan,” he added.
Rahman informed that two experts, including a veterinarian from the Elephant Nature Park, would arrive in Islamabad next week to check on Kaavan and run some tests, estimating that the animal would be moved away from Pakistan in two months’ time.
In addition to health checks between now and then, Kaavan, who will travel to Cambodia by plane, will be introduced to and made comfortable with the transport crate he will travel in.
“It’s quite small so we want him to get accustomed to it and understand that he is safe in it,” Rahman said.


Pakistan ready to tap into Kuwait's skilled labor market — envoy

Updated 40 min 41 sec ago

Pakistan ready to tap into Kuwait's skilled labor market — envoy

  • Pakistan committed to provide skilled labor to Kuwait in line with its Vision 2035 to diversify economy and strengthen relations with Asia
  • Pakistanis make up one of the largest groups of foreigners living and working in Kuwait

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is ready to provide skilled workers to Kuwait's labor market, the Pakistani ambassador to the Gulf country said on Thursday, after a meeting with a top official of the Kuwaiti Public Authority for Manpower.
Ambassador Syed Sajjad Haider and Pakistan’s deputy head of mission, Tahreem Ilyas, met with Public Authority for Manpower director general Ahmad Al-Mousa to discuss issues related to Pakistani workers in Kuwait.
"Pakistan is ready to provide experienced and skilled manpower according to the demands of the Kuwaiti labor market," Ambassador Haider said, as quoted in a report by Kuwait Times, which was shared by the Pakistani embassy on social media.

He also expressed hope that the number of Pakistani workers in Kuwait would increase in the future.
In October, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s special assistant on overseas Pakistanis, Zulfikar Bukhari, said that Pakistan was committed to the development of Kuwait and would provide skilled workforce in multiple sectors aligned with Kuwait’s Vision 2035 to diversify the economy away from oil and strengthen relations with Asia.
Pakistanis make up one of the largest groups of foreigners living and working in Kuwait.