Kaavan- dubbed as the world’s loneliest animal, this elephant brings mixed emotions to the part of Pakistani community that is animal loving. Having lived in Pakistan for a long 35 years, Kaavan is all set to move to Cambodia in a few days’ time. This news has made many in our community happy and sad for the elephant. He not only happened to be the only elephant in the capital but the fact that he is departing is because we failed him. All we now hope is that he gets a finer life ahead.
Kaavan was gifted to Pakistan by Sri Lanka in 1985. In 1990, his female companion, known by the name ‘Saheli’ was brought from Bangladesh but sadly passed away in 2012, making Kaavan all alone. Mistreatment and emotional distress caused him to act aggressively due to which he was chained and put into small confinement, such was the treatment the poor animal was given. Now 35 years later he is all set to migrate again. The reason of which is something that has embarrassed us as a nation. He has not only been grossly mistreated but also kept isolated, underfed, and constantly hurt socio-emotionally. His migration is though a very good step for his wellbeing but the fact is, we failed the poor animal.
It was in 2015 when a student Samar Khan started a petition to bring the world’s attention to Kaavan, in the hope to improve his living standards. She created a Facebook page sharing Kaavan’s story. She was followed by several other activists, at both local and international level to bring an end to Kaavan’s misery. A report was submitted to the Islamabad High Court that claimed that the elephant lived in conditions “inappropriate” to meet his “physiological, social and behavioral needs”. As well as being regularly chained up in a small enclosure, he had been kept in isolation since 2012. His food was “substandard” and “inadequate”, and his mahouts, or keepers, had a “negative relationship” with him. It was finally a fine day on May 21st 2020 when the Islamabad High Court passed the judgment for Kaavan’s migration for a better future.
What remains to be seen is how much of a farewell will it be for Kaavan. The average lifespan of Asian elephants in captivity is 47.6 years in Europe and 41.9 years in North America; they can live up to 60 years in the wild. At 37, Kaavan has already lived the major chunk of his life in Pakistan.
Several key political figures and other famous personalities have been visiting Kaavan to say goodbye. Most notably, the honorable President and First Lady of Pakistan recently visited him to bid farewell and they both seemed pretty happy for him. The concern is, if they truly had such love for the elephant, couldn’t and shouldn’t they have done something about it? Where are we heading as a nation if we are openly telling the world that we’re very happy to let ONE and ONLY elephant in the capital city leave the
country because we couldn’t take its care? As happy as we should be for a better future for Kaavan, how sad should we be on the fact that we couldn’t give one elephant a happy life?
Wildlife mistreatment is a major problem in Pakistan. Together, we have to take a stand to this. How many more Kaavans will we let go?
By: Ali Akbar – Mathematics / Additional Mathematics