Official Body Proposes Relocation of Islamabad Zoo Elephant to Cambodia sanctuary

Islamabad July 17 (Online Int’l): An eight-member experts’ committee has recommended that the 25,000-acre wildlife sanctuary in Cambodia could be a suitable area for re-location and retirement of elephant Kavaan of the Islamabad Marghzar Zoo after giving joy to thousands of visiting children over last several years.

According to a press release issued on Friday, the Committee has argued that the sanctuary that already houses elephants and is equipped with experts, who have relocated and rehabilitated over 80 elephants so far, would be the best choice.

The Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) had constituted an eight-member committee, on June 9, for relocation of the elephant Kavaan and other animals of the Zoo to some other sanctuaries.

Complying with the direction of the Islamabad High Court, Chief Justice Athar Minallah, the IWMB notified the experts’ committee, comprising its WWF-Pakistan’s senior the director programme Pakistan as its chairman and biodiversity specialist Z. B. Mirza as co-chairman. A meeting of IWMB reviewed various options for safe relocation/retirement of the elephant to comply with the Islamabad High Court’s judgment issued on May 21.

“The meeting participants were of the view that the re-location options for the elephant Kavaan must be considered after examining all parameters, such as the health of the animal, the logistics, suitability and facilities at the proposed re-location site and the agreement with the new site authorities amongst others.”

“However, after elaborate examination of the various viable options the Board has decided, based on expert committee recommendations, to relocate/retire Kavaan to a sanctuary in Cambodia under required due diligence and agreements”, said the ministry official.

He said that it is pertinent to mention here that Advisor to Prime Minister on Climate Change, Malik Amin Aslam, had earlier hailed the decision of the Islamabad High Court and had acknowledged that under the circumstances it is sad step to take but the right one for the betterment of the Kavaan.

The advisor Malik Amin, however, has stressed that any proposal in this regard for relocation and retirement of the elephant must be backed by adequate research and consideration of all factors, the official Muhammad Saleem highlighted. He added that Malik Amin Aslam had also assured that Ministry of Climate Change would fully back and support all decisions relating to animals’ wellbeing.

The advisor had also highlighted that the prime minister had issued strong directions to the Ministry of Climate Change to provide all required support for implementation of the Court’s decisions, according to the official. Meanwhile, the advisor Malik Amin Aslam tasked the Ministry officials concerned to extend support for future rethinking and revamping of the Islamabad Zoo into a more animal friendly enclave, which provides environment for adequate protection of animals rather than animal exhibit, the ministry official Saleem said.

The climate change media focal person Muhammad Saleem said that the prime minister’s advisor, has already directed IWMB officials to strictly ensure all-out care and diligence for the well-being of animals while undertaking the re-locations in the light of Islamabad High Court’s judgment, so that unnecessary haste does not harm animals in any way in future.

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