KMC has no funds to move Madhubala to Safari Park, mayor tells experts

Published August 24, 2023
This photo shows elephant Madhubala at the Karachi Zoo. — Photo by Muzhira Amin
This photo shows elephant Madhubala at the Karachi Zoo. — Photo by Muzhira Amin

KARACHI: Local and foreign experts held a meeting with Mayor Murtaza Wahab on Wednesday in which no time frame was decided to relocate African elephant Madhubala from Karachi Zoo to Safari Park to rescue her from the risk of early death due to solitary confinement and reunite her with her sisters currently housed in Safari Park.

The meeting was attended by experts representing Four Paws, an international team working for animal welfare and the World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan, among others.

According to sources, Mayor Wahab informed the visiting experts that the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC), which controls zoos and Safari Park, had no funds to relocate the zoo elephant.

However, he supported the idea of an elephant sanctuary at Safari Park, if there are interested parties ready for extending financial assistance and professional expertise in setting up the facility and shifting Madhubala there.

Living in solitary confinement, the elephant’s life is in danger and requires immediate rescue, experts warn

He, however, did not agree with the suggestion of moving elephants out to a species-appropriate foreign sanctuary as it would earn a bad name to the country.

The mayor turned down the idea of setting up a wildlife board comprising relevant experts to ensure well-being of animals both at the Safari Park and the zoo and stated that the KMC would continue with its leading role.

The international organisation has been assisting the local zoo and Safari officials in elephant care on the orders of the Sindh High Court for the past few years.

Now, it plans to support the local administration to reunite zoo elephant Madhubala with her two other family members currently living in Safari Park. The poor animal has been experiencing immense mental stress in solitary confinement since the death of her partner Noor Jehan over three months ago.

The sources regretted that the meeting couldn’t see any strong government commitments towards animal welfare that had become a serious subject especially after the tragic death of zoo elephant Noor Jehan.

The poor animal had suffered acute neglect at the hands of the zoo staff, leaving her crippled for months.

The sources expressed the fear that the fate of other animals was no different as well.

Disease and mortalities, they said, were frequent at the Karachi Zoo and Safari Park and there was a dire need to put in place a mechanism to rescue animals in need.

“The authorities seem to be in no mood to listen to sane voices. Hence, these facilities are likely to be run by officials lacking interest, qualification and expertise in animal care,” shared a senior KMC official privy to the meeting.

It might be recalled that Four Paws had recommended in its 2021 report that the zoo elephants should be reunited with their family members in the Safari Park. The process is still pending.

It’s important to mention here experts discourage keeping elephants in zoos as their needs cannot be adequately met in a captive environment. Consequently, their welfare is severely compromised.

Published in Dawn, August 24th, 2023

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