Vets suggest shifting of elephants from Karachi Zoo to Safari Park

Published November 30, 2021
Experts examine one of the two female elephants at Karachi Zoological Gardens on Monday.—AFP
Experts examine one of the two female elephants at Karachi Zoological Gardens on Monday.—AFP

KARACHI: The team of veterinary experts from the international animal rights group Four Paws made a longer visit to Karachi Zoo on Monday to assess and evaluate the health conditions and well-being of the remaining two female elephants, Noor Jehan and Madhubala.

Soon after their arrival in Karachi, a day prior, they had spent most of their time at the Safari Park to review the health and living conditions of the two female elephants there, Sonu and Malika, after a very brief visit to the Zoo where they had found Noor Jehan and Madhubala somewhat agitated, making them postpone their examination for a day.

But on Monday they were able to take blood and urine samples and conducted a number of tests on Noor Jehan and Madhubala at the Zoo.

The experts are to submit a report before the Sindh High Court (SHC) on Tuesday (today) recommending a number of steps necessary for the well-being of the elephants.

According to sources, among the recommendations they are going to submit, the top most is medical treatment of the older of the two elephants at the Zoo, 17-year-old Noor Jehan. Her tusk is broken and needs serious and urgent medical attention. Noor Jehan’s treatment might cost 100,000 Euros as it would require importing expert vets and equipment. Otherwise, she is in constant pain.

Four Paws team visits Karachi Zoo to assess well-being of two female elephants

As for the other elephant there, 16-year-old Madhubala, it was observed her reproduction cycle has not started even at this advanced age (for a female elephant, the usual age is from 12 years). This is a clear sign of stress or malnutrition. The vets observed and recommended re-adjustment of her diet. Presently, the elephants are being fed 100kgs sugar cane, which is quite unhealthy for them.

Another issue, as observed by the experts, is that Karachi Zoo elephants are living with noise pollution. There is permanent noise from traffic there. Their enclosures also lack natural habitat and swimming facilities such as a nice big green area where they could roam about and swim for leisure. Therefore it would be a good idea if they are also shifted to the Safari Park or their present enclosure at the Zoo may be enlarged and modified.

For the Safari Park, the experts recommended that the elephants’ shelter be enlarged and the swimming pool may be expanded like a natural river.

Capacity building of staff has also been stressed in the recommendations to be submitted before the SHC. Both the elephants and their staff need training as it is a must for the medical care and treatment of the animals.

It has been one year after the spectacular rescue by Four Paws of the elephant Kaavan, who was transferred from Islamabad to Cambodia and now lives a species-appropriate life in an elephant sanctuary. The global animal welfare organisation returned to Pakistan, which recently banned the import of new elephants following the advice from Four Paws.

The team of veterinarians and wildlife experts is lead by Dr Amir Khalil and comprising Dr Frank Göritz and Prof Thomas Hildebrandt from the Leibnitz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) and Dr Marina Ivanova from Four Paws.

Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2021

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