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Animal activists say Karachi elephants need help, KMC disagrees

KMC claims they are in 'excellent' shape

SAMAA | - Posted: Apr 23, 2021 | Last Updated: 5 months ago
SAMAA |
Posted: Apr 23, 2021 | Last Updated: 5 months ago

Photo: Free The Wild

The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation thinks that the four elephants chained and caged at Karachi Zoo and Safari Park are “perfectly healthy” and in “excellent shape”.

Animal experts from across the world have, however, said that they seem to be suffering from foot rot and other diseases. The Sindh High Court has been hearing a case against the city government for blocking their examination by renowned vets. The visit was cancelled last minute after KMC refused to issue a permit to Free The Wild, a UK-based wildlife charity which has collected $17,637 funds for the check-up.

“We have provided the elephants with the perfect habitat,” Muhammad Mansoor Qazi, the KMC culture, sports, and recreation senior director, told a two-member bench, headed by Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi, on Thursday. All four elephants are robust and healthy, Qazi claimed, adding that the petitioners are trying to “malign” them. “They are tarnishing the country’s image,” he remarked.

“It’s great that someone is offering help to you,” Justice Rizvi remarked. “Why do you have a problem with it?”

Qazi remarked that the city government has sufficient staff members to look after the elephants, adding that they don’t need anyone’s help.

Barrister Salahuddin Ahmed, representing petitioners Advocate Owais Awan and Pakistan Animal Welfare Society, said that he has seen the conditions the elephants are in and it is nothing to be proud of. The city government just can’t take criticism.

He assured that the charity does not plan on moving the elephants anywhere. “We are here to facilitate you and have no intention of maligning the organisation,” Barrister Ahmed told the KMC director.

Qazi then raised concerns about the source of funding. The petitioner’s lawyer explained that the funds have been raised through crowdsourcing and will exclusively be spent for the welfare of the elephants.

The KMC director, who remained reluctant to allow Free The Wild to conduct the examination, suggested that the city government can perhaps approach the elephant orphanage in Sri Lanka to conduct the health assessment using the same funds he had earlier raised doubts about.

The judge remarked that they should just take up the help they are being offered rather than involving others.

The court allowed time to Qazi to make a “definite statement” after seeking the instructions of his higher-ups, while the petitioners were instructed to not initiate “any negative propaganda or campaign” against the city government.

The funds collected for the elephants must be used for their benefit only, the court added. The case has been adjourned till May 5.

Karachi elephants 

There are four African elephants in Karachi: Malaika, Sonu, Madhu Bala, Noor Jehan. Two pairs of African elephants were brought to Karachi in 2009 from Tanzania. Malaika and Sonu have been held captive at Safari Park, while Noor Jehan and Madhu Bala were moved to an enclosure at the Karachi zoo.

Earlier this year, videos of the elephants surfaced and it showed that they had broken nails, cracked tusks, swollen legs, and damaged feet.

Malaika and Sonu have been housed in a small cement enclosure that has a divider in the middle so they remain in solitary. Their feet remain chained for 15 hours a day.

Noor Jehan and Madhu Bala live in similar conditions at the Karachi Zoo. They are trapped within a 20 square-meter cage of thick iron bars and are chained by three legs on a concrete floor.

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