KARACHI: A team of veterinary doctors and animal experts from the international animal rights group called Four Paws landed in Karachi early on Sunday to assess the health and well-being of the four female African elephants kept at the Safari Park and the Karachi Zoological Gardens.
There are two female elephants, Sonu and Malika, being kept in Safari Park. And the other two female elephants, Madhubala and Noor, are at Karachi Zoo. The team is expected to carry out tests and take blood samples of the elephants.
All the four elephants were imported from Tanzania several years ago. They are the last of elephants from Africa in Pakistan. Earlier, this year, videos surfaced showing they had broken and injured nails, cracked tusks, swollen legs, and damaged feet. Many animal rights activists moved the Sindh High Court (SHC) while raising serious doubts about the animals’ well-being.
Just a few days ago, there was also news along with heart-wrenching painful pictures of a white lion, which died in Karachi Zoo, reportedly due to poor nutrition, negligence of authorities and lack of medication.
It was a plea from animal rights activists following the incident that prompted the SHC to request Four Paws to examine the elephants and submit a report on Nov 30 (tomorrow) on their health condition and well-being.
The team of veterinarians and animal experts is headed by Dr Amir Khalil, who is well-known in Pakistan for his role in the successful relocation of the male elephant Kaavan last year from Islamabad’s Marghazar Zoo to a sanctuary for elephants in Cambodia. He is also called ‘Kaavan’s saviour’.
Dr Khalil is accompanied by Dr Frank Göritz and Prof Thomas Hildebrandt from the Leibnitz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) and Dr Marina Ivanova from Four Paws.
Animal rights activist Advocate Owais Awan and film-maker Mahera Omar of the animal rights group PAWS are co-petitioners in the SHC.
The team was extended all-out cooperation by officials during their visit to the Safari Park.
During a briefing later, Dr Khalil said that his team worked closely with the responsible national authorities who support their decision-making regarding the future care of the elephants, who are between 12 and 14 years of age.
“We are grateful for the trust of the Sindh High Court in our expertise and happy to support the authorities in making sure these elephants receive species-appropriate care.
“We will perform medical examinations on all four elephants, check their feet and assess their keeping conditions,” said Dr Khalil, adding that Four Paws also brought medicine and equipment for treating the elephants in case any urgent medical action was required.
Following their assessment, the Four Paws experts will propose their recommendations to the SHC for taking of the outcomes into further consideration.
Published in Dawn, November 29th, 2021