Committee to decide on relocation of Kavaan, other animals from zoo

Updated 09 Jun 2020

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“After surveying the jurisprudence developed in various jurisdictions it has become obvious that there is consensus that an ‘animal’ is not merely a ‘thing’ or ‘property’." — File photo
“After surveying the jurisprudence developed in various jurisdictions it has become obvious that there is consensus that an ‘animal’ is not merely a ‘thing’ or ‘property’." — File photo

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) on Monday constituted an eight-member committee for relocation of elephant Kaavan and other animals of Marghzar Zoo to some other sanctuaries.

Complying with the direction of the IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah, IWMB notified the expert committee comprising its WWF senior director programme Pakistan Rab Nawaz as its chairman, Biodiversity Specialist Z B Mirza as co-chairman.

Khyber Pakhtukhwa Wildlife Chief Conservator Dr Mohsin Farooq, Islamabad Zoo veterinary officer Dr Bilal Khilji, Dr Masoodul Haq of Bahria Zoo, Dr Tom Channarong Srisa of Ard Save the Elephant Foundation, Ms Nilanga Jaysinghe of IUCN, and co founder of Save the Elephant Foundation Derek Thompsan as its members.

As per the terms of reference of the expert committee, it would examine establishing sanctuary in Pakistan, which meets the behavioral, social and physiological needs of Kaavan.

If such an elephant sanctuary can be established in Pakistan, define its parameters and location and who should manage it? If such a sanctuary in Pakistan cannot fulfill needs of Kaavan then what countries and sanctuaries are the best options for his relocation abroad?

Besides, the committee would set a timeframe for the relocation of Kaavan and for temporary stay of lions, bears, zebras and wolves till the establishment of new Islamabad’s zoo which suppose to be in accordance with the international standard.

IMWB submitted a copy of the said notification to the IHC, Ministry of Climate Change, Capital Development Authority and Municipal Corporation Islamabad.

Meanwhile, Pro-Elephant Network (PREN), a global community of elephant scientists, researchers and activists, wrote a letter to the IHC Chief Justice and appreciated him for authoring the judgment that acknowledged “rights of non-human animals.”

It said: “After surveying the jurisprudence developed in various jurisdictions it has become obvious that there is consensus that an ‘animal’ is not merely a ‘thing’ or ‘property’. There is also no dispute regarding the fact that no animal deserves to be subjected to cruel treatment.”

Some courts have declared particular animal species as non-human persons while others have gone to the extent of granting them the same rights as those of the human species guaranteed under the constitution it said adding that they wanted those in charge of moving the animals to meet the court requirements, must be done with thorough and expert consideration: rushing a move for any of the animals could result in serious welfare concerns or even death, particularly in the heat of the summer.

“Furthermore, our specialists who have worked hands on with elephants, would like to respectfully suggest that Kaavan needs to be placed in a management with Protected Contact (PC). This is crucial for the choice of the sanctuary, his new home, as he has hardly been in direct contact, a standard which many sanctuaries apply,” it said.

Published in Dawn, June 9th, 2020