Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

‘World’s Loneliest Elephant’ Rescued From Cruel Conditions With Help From Cher

Animals
‘World’s Loneliest Elephant’ Rescued From Cruel Conditions With Help From Cher
Kaavan in Islamabad, Pakistan on Sept. 4, 2020. Arne Immanuel Bänsch / picture alliance via Getty Images

With help from music icon Cher, the "world's loneliest elephant" has found a new home and, hopefully, a new family.


The elephant, a 36-year-old male named Kaavan, has lived alone in a controversial zoo in Islamabad, Pakistan since his partner Saheli died in 2012, according to animal welfare group Four Paws International. But now, thanks to the efforts of Four Paws, Cher and her NGO Free the Wild, the Pakistani government and American businessman Eric S. Margolis, Kaavan has landed in Cambodia after a 10-hour flight, where he will enjoy a new life in a wildlife sanctuary.

"Kaavan was eating, was not stressed and he even slept a little bit whilst leaning on the wall of the crate!" Four Paws tweeted Monday of the successful flight. "He behaves like a 'Frequent Flyer.'"

Twitter

twitter.com

But Kaavan's journey to Cambodia was much longer than the 10 hour flight. Kaavan, an Asian elephant, was first gifted to Pakistan from Sri Lanka in 1985 and found his first home at the Marghazar Zoo, according to Four Paws. From 1990 until 2012, he shared his enclosure with Saheli. But then she died after an infection turned gangrenous, The Associated Press reported. Her body was left in the enclosure for several days after she passed away, Four Paws veterinarian Dr. Amir Khalil said Kaavan was heartbroken by the experience.

Even before Saheli's death, the Marghazar Zoo was not a pleasant place to live. Kaavan spent most of his 35 years there in chains. But his condition deteriorated after his partner passed away, and wildlife advocates dubbed him the "world's loneliest elephant."

Cher learned about his case on Twitter and decided to get involved, according to CNN.

"I thought, 'how can I fix this? How can I save an elephant who's been shackled to a shed for 17 years and who is a thousand miles away?'" Cher told CNN.

Kaavan's relocation to Cambodia marks the first big rescue for Free the Wild, which Cher co-founded. It is also the first time Four Paws has moved an elephant by plane, the organization said.

Khalil spent three months preparing Kaavan for the journey, The Associated Press reported. At the start of the process, Kaavan was both malnourished and overweight, and suffered from behavioral problems because of his time spent alone. He started shaking his head for hours, and his nails are cracked and overgrown because the flooring in his enclosure harmed his feet.

Khalil put Kaavan on a diet of fruit and vegetables and helped him to lose a ton before the flight. He also helped him to get more relaxed before the journey, which Kaavan undertook with only mild sedation, according to Free the Wild.

"Kaavan quickly gained confidence in us and made great progress in a short time. In his case it not only took a village but a whole country to transfer Kaavan to Cambodia," Khalil told Four Paws.

Cher was both in Pakistan to see Kaavan off and in Cambodia to greet him on his arrival. She sang "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes," to him before he left, according to CNN. In Pakistan, she also met with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday, according to The Associated Press.

"Just Came From Meeting To Thank Prime Minister Imran Kahn For Making It Possible For Me To Take Kaavan To Cambodia," she tweeted Friday.

She also said that Kaavan's story would be told in a Smithsonian documentary.

In Cambodia, Kaavan will live in the Cambodia Wildlife Sanctuary, where there are three other female elephants to keep him company, Four Paws spokesperson Martin Bauer told NPR.

"The goal is to socialize him," Bauer said. "It will take a while because he has lived on his own for such a long time. But yes, ultimately the goal is to bring him together with other animals because that's what elephants want. They're herd animals, they always form families, and that's also what we plan for him."

Kaavan is not the only animal who suffered at the Marghazar Zoo. The Islamabad High Court ordered its closure in May because of cruel conditions. Four Paws is also helping to relocate other zoo animals. It has found new homes for three wolves, some monkeys and all of the zoo's rabbits, the organization said. It will rehome two Himalayan brown bears in December. Margolis, the U.S. businessman, is helping to fund the rescue of the animals, including the bears, and paid for half of Kaavan's flight.

Plastic bails, left, and aluminum bails, right, are photographed at the Green Waste material recovery facility on Thursday, March 28, 2019, in San Jose, California. Aric Crabb / Digital First Media / Bay Area News via Getty Images

By Courtney Lindwall

Coined in the 1970s, the classic Earth Day mantra "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" has encouraged consumers to take stock of the materials they buy, use, and often quickly pitch — all in the name of curbing pollution and saving the earth's resources. Most of us listened, or lord knows we tried. We've carried totes and refused straws and dutifully rinsed yogurt cartons before placing them in the appropriately marked bins. And yet, nearly half a century later, the United States still produces more than 35 million tons of plastic annually, and sends more and more of it into our oceans, lakes, soils, and bodies.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Rise and Resist activist group marched together to demand climate and racial justice. Steve Sanchez / Pacific Press / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Alexandria Villaseñor

This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.

My journey to becoming an activist began in late 2018. During a trip to California to visit family, the Camp Fire broke out. At the time, it was the most devastating and destructive wildfire in California history. Thousands of acres and structures burned, and many lives were lost. Since then, California's wildfires have accelerated: This past year, we saw the first-ever "gigafire," and by the end of 2020, more than four million acres had burned.

Read More Show Less
Trending
U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced a pair of climate-related secretarial orders on Friday, April 16. U.S. Department of the Interior

By Jessica Corbett

As the Biden administration reviews the U.S. government's federal fossil fuels program and faces pressure to block any new dirty energy development, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland won praise from environmentalists on Friday for issuing a pair of climate-related secretarial orders.

Read More Show Less
David Attenborough narrates "The Year Earth Changed," premiering globally April 16 on Apple TV+. Apple

Next week marks the second Earth Day of the coronavirus pandemic. While a year of lockdowns and travel restrictions has limited our ability to explore the natural world and gather with others for its defense, it is still possible to experience the wonder and inspiration from the safety of your home.

Read More Show Less

By Michael Svoboda

For April's bookshelf we take a cue from Earth Day and step back to look at the bigger picture. It wasn't climate change that motivated people to attend the teach-ins and protests that marked that first observance in 1970; it was pollution, the destruction of wild lands and habitats, and the consequent deaths of species.

Read More Show Less