Please note: If you haven’t read part 4 yet, have a look here.
Disclaimer: The sequence of events depicted in these articles is based on the true story of Kaavan the elephant, written from his point of view.
Since Saheli died in 2012, I was never able to fully recover. Because my mood never improved, my mahut elected to ignore me, coming in only on occasion to ensure I had food and water. I was kept chained to a post in the ground, right beside my shelter for over three years.
It wasn’t until 2015, my luck took a drastic turn. A visitor to the zoo noticed my condition, and the fact that I’d begun swaying from left to right – something that happens to elephants when we aren’t able to roam and socialise freely. This visitor took it upon himself to spread the word that I wasn’t being cared for properly. Several campaigns were launched to spread the news of my plight, many of which petitioned for the Capital Development Authority Islamabad (CDA) to release me from Islamabad Zoo. I heard that those petitions received just under half a million signatures.
For days, there were children, young people and other concerned citizens protesting outside the zoo and I heard that the same was happening around the world – all news that started to lift my spirits again. One day that made me feel particularly special, was the day that Prime Minister Sharif sent his daughter to the zoo to meet me. She immediately saw that my health was in a terrible state and informed her father. With that, PM Sharif was able to have the CDA release a public announcement, agreeing to transfer Kaavan to a sanctuary. I couldn’t believe my ears – I was going to be released from this prison! However, inexplicably, the CDA withdrew their statement a few days later.
Having heard the news of my plight, Cher, a world-renowned musician came to visit me at the zoo. I could see it on her face. I could feel her pity. I knew she was here to help me, albeit I have no idea how, or what she would do.
A few months after her visit, my mahut was instructed to release me from my chains and for the zoo to ensure I had enough water to drink and bathe everyday. I had nothing to celebrate, but I felt liberated. Cher formed Free The Wild with her partners, based on what they had seen happening to me. They were responsible for this brief sense of achievement and, finally, it seemed as though the people at the zoo were starting to listen.
That was almost three years ago now. My chain is off but I still remain in the same enclosure. My water is replaced only when it’s remembered and a four-foot pit surrounds me. A pit that will always remind me of the day I was taken from my family.
If you can hear me, I need you to know that I’m not alone here. Everyday I hear the sorrows of hundreds more, crying out for their families, begging for food and in desperate need of medicine.
Cher and Free The Wild are still trying to help us, but need your support to do so. Pakistan is on the brink of war as we speak and so the Zoo and our lives have fallen to the wayside once again. Any support we were receiving from the government has been suspended and now, more than ever, I and the hundreds of other residents here are relying entirely on the support of Free The Wild and their followers.
Your voices are louder than mine, your bodies more able and the money in your pockets more powerful than I could ever be.
Please help me to roam the forests of my home once again.
If Kaavan could speak – Part 5 of 5
The donations Free The Wild receives will help us cover land and air transportation costs, veterinary care prior to and throughout his journey and the air fares for the vets and professionals responsible for his care. We are also continuing to raise funds in order to have Islamabad Zoo completely renovated and its staff retrained by qualified and highly experienced experts, albeit Kaavan’s release is our foremost priority.
We do not condone Islamabad Zoo’s current practices and are urgently working to have the facilities renovated to provide sanctuary to the animals that reside there.
Any help you can provide, whether it’s by sharing this post or by donating a small amount of money will help our cause immeasurably.
The more pressure we can put on Pakistan and the Zoo, the more likely we are to create a positive outcome for Kaavan and all the other animals that are currently held captive, and in dire need of care, at Islamabad Zoo.
We highly appreciate your continued support.
Free the Wild