Saturday, September 30, 2017

CDA declines another offer to shift ‘Kavaan’

The Capital Development Authority (CDA) once again declined a request from 'Free the Wild' to immediately shift 'Kavann' the elephant into a safe elephants' sanctuary abroad. However, the authority asked foreign experts to visit the Margazar Zoo.

A three-member delegation led by Mark Cown, a representative of 'Free the Wild', a United States based organisation working for animals' rights, met Islamabad Mayor Shaikh Anser Aziz on Tuesday in this regard.

Sources told Daily Times that the delegation had requested CDA to allow them to shift 'Kavaan' into a safe sanctuary anywhere in the world. "They also offered to give another new pair of elephants for the zoo in Islamabad," sources said.

The 33-year-old Asian elephant Kavaan has lived in the Islamabad zoo since he was a calf. He was gifted to General Zia by the Sri Lankan government. The elephant has been kept in chains for more than two decades.

The campaign to free him by animal lovers across the country and abroad last year led to a series of Senate hearings and the Senate Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat took up Kavaan's issue after the media reported on the terrible conditions under which he is being kept at the zoo.

In July 2016, the committee's chairman Senator Talha Mehmood and other members recommended that Kavaan be sent abroad to an elephant sanctuary. A sanctuary in Cambodia has offered to fly him out there free of cost and to keep him in a natural environment for the rest of his life.

However, the city managers have been reluctant to send the elephant abroad, fearing the loss of funds that are being used on the name of Kavaan's rehabilitation.

When contacted, Islamabad Environment Metropolitan Corporation Director General Dr Sheikh Suleman said: "It is too early to say that why we did not make a commitment with the delegation regarding shifting Kavaan."

"We have asked them to first visit the zoo and assess the present situation of the elephant and then we will discuss a suitable option in this regard," he said.

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