Petitioners want international experts to examine them
Animal activists have taken the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation to the court for its ‘inhuman’ and ‘negligent mistreatment’ of the four elephants at Karachi zoo and Safari Park: Malika, Sonu, Noor Jehan, and Madhubala.
People had shown concern about their health after a video of their feet went viral in January. International organisations asked the government to conduct their medical examination and ensure their proper care.
The petition, filed by Advocate Owais Awan and Pakistan Animal Welfare Society, has made the following demands:
A two-member bench of the Sindh High Court, comprising Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi and Justice Rashida Asad, heard the petition on Monday and issued notices to all the respondents, including KMC, Safari Park director, Zoo director, and Sindh government. The next hearing will be held on April 9.
All four elephants caught in the wild in Tanzania and “forcibly ripped from their mothers at an age where they would still be drinking milk”, according to the petitioners. KMC reportedly paid Rs40 million to a Pakistani animal trader to bring them to Karachi in 2009.
They were kept at Safari Park initially and then separated once again after Noor Jehan and Madhubala were sent to the Karachi zoo on May 20, 2010.
The animals were “put in a hostile environment in which the visitors tease animals by throwing articles, pelting stones, poking them or disturbing them with loud noises”, the petitioner said, adding that their enclosures are “ill-equipped, without proper company, proper food, water, medical treatment, healthcare facilities” or competent caregivers.
These elephants are in “pain, distress, and agony”, and have been showing signs of zoochosis as they “bob and sway their heads which points to the possibility of a neurologist issue due to the conditions of their captivity”.
Here are some features of their cages at KMC parks.
These factors have led to foot problems among the elephants. Footrot has affected Malika so much that she can only stand on two of her feet at a time. She requires specific treatment which is “beyond the scope of the Safari Park”. Research reveals that foot problems are a leading cause of the deaths of elephants in captivity.
Wildlife veterinarian Dr Brett Bard and zoologist Marion Garai have said that the elephants have been living in “deplorable conditions and are in need of an immediate change”, the petitioner added.
On February 2, 2021, the petitioner held a meeting with KMC and discussed with them calling elephant specialists Dr Frank Goertiz and Prof Dr Thomas Hildebrandt to Pakistan to examine the animals. Free The Wild, a UK-based organization, even started gathering funds for their visit after a verbal agreement by the city government. The KMC, however, turned back on its word and denied permission to the vets after raising concerns about the fundraising campaign.
The petitioners say that the medical assessment of the elephants is necessary as there are no experts in the field of elephant veterinary care in Pakistan.
African elephants are known for the nomadic lifestyle.