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Kaavan’s journey to Cambodia illustrated in new comic

World’s loneliest elephant will leave Pakistan today

SAMAA | - Posted: Nov 29, 2020 | Last Updated: 10 months ago
Posted: Nov 29, 2020 | Last Updated: 10 months ago

Photo: © | FOUR PAWS

Kaavan, the world’s loneliest elephant, has been making headlines since the Islamabad High Court ruled that the Marghazar Zoo is not fit to keep him or any other animals.

He will fly to Cambodia to retire at a sanctuary today (Sunday). Four Paws, which has been involved in shifting the elephant to a sanctuary in Cambodia, has released a comic to show the journey of the elephant and the cruelty he faced.

Austria-based illustrator and graphic designer Julia Lohninger has made the illustration.

“We wanted to do a cute and emotional depiction” so that people are immediately grasped by Kaavan’s heart-wrenching story, she said while speaking to SAMAA Digital. Originally, it should have been a comic. “But I suggested we do it more like a picture book and each picture can stand on its own and tell the story.”

Lohninger said she was inspired by the works of Aaron Blaise, but her “main inspiration was truly the sad but heart-warming story of Kaavan.”

The designer was approached by Four Paws to make the illustration and completed it in two weeks. “I have worked for Four Paws before and when they sent me the storyline of Kaavan I kept thinking that I really want to do this.”

She shared that she didn’t know Kaavan’s story before but it touched her immediately.

kaavan comic

Artist Julia Lohninger has drawn the illustrations. Photo: ©

“They had sent me the basic story of Kaavan’s life and how much the people in Pakistan [and around the world] fought to free him,” she said.” The illustrator was given pictures of Kaavan, his cage at the Islamabad zoo, protests in Pakistan and the court hearings of the case.

Lohninger shared that her favourite part of the illustration is the happy ending. “I also like how much the people fought and cared for Kaavan’s freedom.”

She said she would love to visit Pakistan one day. “It must be a beautiful country with awesome nature and wonderful people and great food.”

Speaking about her work, she said that she “loves detailed and colourful illustrations.” My personal style (which develops all the time) is always detailed and I love working with colour, she said.

“I want my illustrations to tell a story and let people dive into it,” she added.

Kaavan’s journey

The journey from Pakistan to Cambodia is seven hours by plane. The elephant will be loaded in a custom built crate onto a heavy-duty cargo plane and flown there.

According to Four Paws, Kaavan is their ‘heaviest’ rescue till date. Kaavan and his crate weigh a combined 10.7 tonnes.

islamabad zoo kaavan
Kaavan is all set to fly to Cambodia on November 29. Photo: Online

The elephant will be accompanied by three doctors and eight technical experts, according to the Civil Aviation Authority.

Pakistan was given Kaavan as a diplomatic gift from Sri Lanka. For 34 years, he was chained in an enclosure with nothing more than a dilapidated shed and cement pool. Most of the time, it was empty. His only companion, another elephant named Saheli, died in 2012. Many activists highlighted his condition and the campaign for his freedom was led by American pop star Cher.

Relief came this year when the Islamabad High Court said animals can no longer be kept at the federal capital’s zoo, which was originally built to be a bird sanctuary.

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