Charity has collected $17,637 for welfare of four Karachi elephants
The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation has claimed that animal activists and organisations working for animal welfare only care about fame — a position it has taken in reaction to being taken to court for not caring for elephants at its zoo.
“They just want fame and none of them are animal specialists or experts,” Mansoor Qazi, the KMC culture, sports, and recreation senior director, told the Sindh High Court on Wednesday when it went back to hearing a case against the city government for denying health check-ups to four African elephants in Karachi.
He claimed that international organisations visit countries and defame them for animal cruelty. “They don’t want any animals in Pakistan. It is becoming a trend now,” he said, adding such actions are “anti-state”.
Advocate Hassan Abdi, the KMC lawyer, said that the charity that has collected funds for the elephants is called Free The Wild. They actively campaign against animal captivity; they first moved the elephant in Islamabad and now they have come here, he claimed.
Barrister Salahuddin Ahmed, the lawyer of petitioners Advocate Owais Awan and Pakistan Animal Welfare Society, clarified that experts only want to examine the elephants. He said that Free The Wild has clearly said that they plan to: establish working relations with KMC, conduct a health assessment of the four elephants, give advice to staffers and improve their conditions, and hold trainings. “How can they [the city government] object to it?”
Pictures of the four elephants at Karachi’s Safari Park and zoo went viral earlier this year. Animal experts said the elephants seem to be suffering from foot rot and other diseases. Free The Wild sought permission from KMC and started collecting funds to have their health checked. Just as renowned vets were set to fly to Karachi, the city government revoked its permission. The vets had even bought medicines which may expire soon.
Justice Hasan Azhar Rizvi asked the city government why it backtracked on the permission it gave to the UK-based charity.
Qazi said that they have checked the elephants and there was no foot rot. They were suffering from seasonal dryness. “They are like our children and we care about their well-being. No one goes and checks the heels of their relatives, then why do so for elephants?”
Justice Rizvi remarked that KMC should accept the extra help as it is already short on technical assistance. “They are coming at their own expense, and not asking you for any money. You can keep the team under your supervision,” he said.
The city government claimed that it won’t allow any propaganda even after the bench reassured it that an order has already been passed to stop the organization from maligning KMC.
The KMC lawyer suggested that the court should order a third-person audit from within Pakistan. He suggested they call vets from the Sindh Agricultural University’s Faculty of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Sciences in Tando Jam.
Salahuddin interjected and remarked: How many elephants are there in Tando Jam? They want vets who haven’t even seen elephants before.
“It doesn’t seem that this matter can be resolved amicably,” the judge said, adding that no one can enter Pakistan for the next few days anyway because of Covid-19 restrictions. He adjourned the hearing for a later date.
A sum of $17,637 had been gathered by the UK-based charity. KMC had sent a WhatsApp message to the petitioners and asked them to apologise for running a “negative campaign” against them, sources said. It said that the charity should deposit the funds in its account—the same funds that the city government claims were raised through “illegitimate” means.
Awan remarked that it is “preposterous to accuse” the charity of any kind of anti-state campaign. He said that it closely worked with the government for the relocation of Kaavan, the elephant at Islamabad’s Murghazar Zoo.