PREN wants them provided immediate medical assistance
An international animal rights group, the Pro Elephant Network, has written an appeal for emergency medical assistance for African elephants caged at Safari Park, and Karachi Zoo.
Earlier this month, a number of activists highlighted the dire condition of four elephants, Noor Jehan, Madhu Bala, Malika and Sonu. The animals were suffering from multiple injuries on their feet and other parts of their bodies.
Visited Karachi Safari Park, a place with huge potential but horrid management. The two elephants, Malika and Sonu are in dire need of foot care and they are chained for 15 hours a day. pic.twitter.com/rmz7pacqRH— stricto sensu (@0waisawan) January 4, 2021
“The elephants have been degraded to tools of human amusement & certainly serve no purpose whatsoever in education. I can say this is one of the worst facilities with the worst type of caregiving I have seen to date.” Dr. Marion of Pro Elephants Network about Karachi Safari Park pic.twitter.com/dHYB17vvs1— 🐝Pakistan Animal Welfare Society 🦀🍃🐶🦧🐘🐻🌻 (@pawspakistan) January 8, 2021
After seeing distressing videos and pictures of the elephants, experts at PREN have released an urgent appeal for “emergency veterinary assessment and intervention for Malika, Sonu, Noor Jehan and Madhu Bala”.
“The implementation of high-priority measures is needed to mitigate the elephants’ critical state of health and to alleviate their obvious suffering,” the appeal stated.
Members of the organisation are willing to offer “their expertise and provide much needed critical veterinary care to the ailing Karachi elephants in order to prevent their premature death”.
Zoologist Dr Marion Garai, a specialist on the social behaviour of elephants in captivity and chairperson of the Elephant Specialist Advisory Group, has written a report on the dire conditions the elephants are kept in.
“This is one of the most unacceptable facilities I have seen in my life. It is totally inadequate for any animal, let alone a sentient, cognitive, intelligent and highly social animal,” she said. “The enclosures are totally barren, without food or water. There is no enrichment, the bedding is utterly poor, with just a bit of grass.”
Noor Jehan and Madhu Bala are chained at the Karachi Zoo by three legs each up to 15 hours a day on a hard, concrete floor. They are trapped within a 20 square-metre cage of thick iron bars. The other two elephants at Safari Park are experiencing a similar ordeal.
Dr Garai pointed out that the elephants show the highest form of frustration, aggression and stereotypes. “They are mentally on the verge of going mad. It is inconceivable that people are allowed so close to these elephants.”
“Keeping elephants in captivity is a controversial practice and for this reason, many zoos are closing their elephant exhibits and retiring their elephants to sanctuaries. We are prepared to offer assistance including offering a rewilding, re-integration program which would see these four elephants thrive in a more natural environment in Africa,” the appeal concluded.
In the past year, a number of incidents have taken place in Pakistan where animals have suffered at the hands of zoo managers. Two such cases are that of Kaavan and the two lions that died at Islamabad’s Marghazar Zoo.
Kaavan is a 36-year-old extinct-breed Asiatic elephant that the Sri Lankan government gifted to Pakistan in 1985. The animal is being kept at Islamabad’s Marghazar Zoo where he has been alone in his enclosure since 2012 when his female companion, Saheli, died at 22.
An online petition garnered over 200,000 signatures after it emerged he was being chained, suffering from mental illnesses, and will have a bleak future without a better habitat even if a new mate arrives.
On May 22, Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minallah ordered wildlife officials to consult Sri Lanka to find Kaavan a “suitable sanctuary”. Kaavan was eventually shifted to a sanctuary in Cambodia.
In August 2020, a pair of lions died while being transferred from the Marghazar Zoo to a farmhouse in Lahore on the May 22 orders of the Islamabad High Court. The deaths were reportedly due to the negligence of the caretakers. After repeated complaints, the court ordered that the 878 other animals at the zoo have to be relocated.
In a similar case, the court had transferred two bears to the Balkasar Bear Sanctuary in Chakwal after a petition was filed in the court regarding the deteriorating health of the bears at the zoo. The bears were later shifted to an international sanctuary.