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No longer 'world's loneliest elephant': Kaavan's journey from Islamabad to Cambodia in pictures

Transporting an adult elephant by plane is no small task, and has only been undertaken a handful of times.
Updated 01 Dec, 2020 12:15pm

Superstar Cher welcomed “the world's loneliest elephant” to Cambodia on Monday to begin a new life at a specialised sanctuary after the creature was rescued from grim conditions in the Islamabad zoo.

Transporting an adult elephant by plane is no small task, and has only been undertaken a handful of times.

Helpers packed the trunk of Kaavan — a 36-year-old bull elephant originally from Sri Lanka — with 200 kilos of food to snack on during the seven-hour flight, while a tube system was installed in his transport crate aboard a jumbo Russian cargo plane to handle up to 200 litres (58 gallons) of urine.

After Kaavan touched down, monks offered him fruit, chanted prayers and sprinkled holy water on his crate to bless him. For the last leg, he was loaded onto a truck for the three-hour journey to his new home, a wildlife sanctuary in Oddar Meanchey province which already hosts three female elephants.

“Cambodia is pleased to welcome Kaavan. No longer will he be 'the world's loneliest elephant',” deputy environment minister Neth Pheaktra said.

Kaavan, an elephant waiting to be transported to a sanctuary in Cambodia, is seen during a farewell ceremony at the Marghazar Zoo in Islamabad, November 23. — Reuters
Kaavan, an elephant waiting to be transported to a sanctuary in Cambodia, is seen during a farewell ceremony at the Marghazar Zoo in Islamabad, November 23. — Reuters

Officials of Four Paws International and wildlife rangers move Kaavan into a crate prior to its transportation to a sanctuary in Cambodia, at the Marghazar Zoo in Islamabad on November 29. — AFP
Officials of Four Paws International and wildlife rangers move Kaavan into a crate prior to its transportation to a sanctuary in Cambodia, at the Marghazar Zoo in Islamabad on November 29. — AFP

Amir Khalil, head of project development at Four Paws International, feeds Kaavan at the Marghazar Zoo in Islamabad, November 29. — Reuters
Amir Khalil, head of project development at Four Paws International, feeds Kaavan at the Marghazar Zoo in Islamabad, November 29. — Reuters

Officials of Four Paws International and wildlife rangers pose for a photograph beside a crate carrying Kaavan after placing it onto a trailer truck at the Marghazar Zoo in Islamabad on November 29. — AFP
Officials of Four Paws International and wildlife rangers pose for a photograph beside a crate carrying Kaavan after placing it onto a trailer truck at the Marghazar Zoo in Islamabad on November 29. — AFP

A trailer truck carrying Kaavan makes its way to the airport before the elephant's departure to a sanctuary in Cambodia, in Islamabad on November 29. — AFP)
A trailer truck carrying Kaavan makes its way to the airport before the elephant's departure to a sanctuary in Cambodia, in Islamabad on November 29. — AFP)

A crate carrying Kaavan prior to his transfer to a sanctuary in Cambodia is seen at the Islamabad International Airport, November 30. — Reuters
A crate carrying Kaavan prior to his transfer to a sanctuary in Cambodia is seen at the Islamabad International Airport, November 30. — Reuters

US singer and actress Cher, right, holds a vanity car plate while posing for a photograph with Dr Amir Khalil, a veterinarian from Four Paws upon arrival of Kaavan from Pakistan, at the Siem Reap International Airport, Cambodia, Monday. — AP
US singer and actress Cher, right, holds a vanity car plate while posing for a photograph with Dr Amir Khalil, a veterinarian from Four Paws upon arrival of Kaavan from Pakistan, at the Siem Reap International Airport, Cambodia, Monday. — AP

An airplane carrying the Asian elephant Kaavan upon his arrival in Cambodia from Pakistan is pictured after landing at Siem Reap International Airport in Siem Reap on November 30. — AFP
An airplane carrying the Asian elephant Kaavan upon his arrival in Cambodia from Pakistan is pictured after landing at Siem Reap International Airport in Siem Reap on November 30. — AFP

The crate containing Kaavan is blessed by Buddhist monks, centre, during his arrival at Siem Reap International Airport from Pakistan, Monday. — AP
The crate containing Kaavan is blessed by Buddhist monks, centre, during his arrival at Siem Reap International Airport from Pakistan, Monday. — AP

Cambodia's Deputy Minister of Environment Neth Pheaktra catches a glimpse of Kaavan after his arrival in Cambodia. — AFP
Cambodia's Deputy Minister of Environment Neth Pheaktra catches a glimpse of Kaavan after his arrival in Cambodia. — AFP

This undated handout photo shows the under-construction enclosure for the Asian elephant Kaavan at the Kulen Prom Tep Wildlife Sanctuary in Oddar Meanchey province in Cambodia. — AFP/Cambodian Ministry of Environment
This undated handout photo shows the under-construction enclosure for the Asian elephant Kaavan at the Kulen Prom Tep Wildlife Sanctuary in Oddar Meanchey province in Cambodia. — AFP/Cambodian Ministry of Environment

This undated aerial handout photo shows the under-construction enclosure for the Asian elephant Kaavan at the Kulen Prom Tep Wildlife Sanctuary in Oddar Meanchey province in Cambodia. — AFP/Cambodian Ministry of Environment
This undated aerial handout photo shows the under-construction enclosure for the Asian elephant Kaavan at the Kulen Prom Tep Wildlife Sanctuary in Oddar Meanchey province in Cambodia. — AFP/Cambodian Ministry of Environment

Kaavan is released into his new home in the Kulen Prom Tep Wildlife Sanctuary in Oddar Meanchey Province on Monday after he was welcomed by Cher earlier in the day in Siem Reap upon his arrival from Pakistan. — AFP
Kaavan is released into his new home in the Kulen Prom Tep Wildlife Sanctuary in Oddar Meanchey Province on Monday after he was welcomed by Cher earlier in the day in Siem Reap upon his arrival from Pakistan. — AFP


Header image: Officials of Four Paws International and wildlife rangers prepare to move Kaavan, Pakistan's only Asian elephant, into a crate prior to its transfer to a sanctuary in Cambodia, at the Marghazar Zoo in Islamabad on Nov 29. — AFP