Experts Suggest Moving Islamabad Zoo Elephant to Cambodia Sanctuary

An eight-member experts’ committee has recommended that the 25,000-acre wildlife sanctuary in Cambodia will be a suitable area for relocation and retirement of elephant Kavaan of the Islamabad Marghzar Zoo after giving joy to thousands of visiting children over the last several years.

“The Committee has argued that the sanctuary, which already houses elephants and is equipped with experts who have relocated and rehabilitated over 80 elephants so far, will be the best choice,” said Muhammad Saleem, deputy director and a media focal person of the Ministry of Climate Change

The Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) had constituted an eight-member committee for the relocation of the elephant Kavaan and other animals of the Marghzar Zoo to different sanctuaries.

Complying with the directions of the Islamabad High Court, Chief Justice Athar Minallah, IWMB notified the experts’ committee, comprising its WWF-Pakistan’s senior director as its chairman and biodiversity specialist Z. B. Mirza as co-chairman.

The committee’s other members include Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Wildlife Chief Conservator Dr. Mohsin Farooq, Islamabad Zoo veterinary officer Dr. Bilal Khilji, Dr. Masood ul Haq of Bahria Zoo, Dr. Tom Channarong Srisa of Ard Save the Elephant Foundation, Ms. Nilanga Jaysinghe of IUCN, co-founder of Save the Elephant Foundation Derek Thompson and representatives from M/o Climate Change as well as the Islamabad Zoo.

A meeting of IWMB, convened on July 13, reviewed various options for safe relocation/retirement of the elephant to comply with Islamabad High Court’s judgment issued on May 21.

The meeting participants were of the view that the relocation options for the elephant Kavaan must be considered after examining all parameters, such as the health of the animal, the logistics, suitability, and facilities at the proposed relocation site and the agreement with the new site authorities amongst others. However, after an elaborate examination of the various viable options, the Board has decided, based on expert committee’s recommendations, to relocate/retire Kavaan to a sanctuary in Cambodia under required due diligence and agreements.

Advisor to Prime Minister on Climate Change, Malik Amin Aslam, had earlier hailed the decision of the Islamabad High Court and had acknowledged that under the circumstances it is a sad step to take but the right one for the betterment of Kavaan.

“The advisor Malik Amin, however, has stressed that any proposal in this regard for relocation and retirement of the elephant must be backed by adequate research and consideration of all factors,” the official Muhammad Saleem highlighted.

Malik Amin Aslam has also assured that the Ministry of Climate Change would fully back and support all decisions relating to animals’ wellbeing.

The advisor has highlighted that the prime minister had issued orders to the Ministry of Climate Change to provide all required support for the implementation of the court’s decisions, according to the official.

Meanwhile, the advisor tasked the Ministry officials to extend support for future rethinking and revamping of Islamabad Zoo into a more animal-friendly enclave, which provides an environment for adequate protection of animals rather than an animal exhibit, the ministry official Mr. Saleem said.

The climate change media focal person Muhammad Saleem said that the prime minister’s advisor has already directed IWMB officials to strictly ensure all-out care and diligence for the well-being of animals while undertaking the re-locations in the light of Islamabad High Court’s judgment so that unnecessary haste does not harm animals in any way.


  • May Allah bless those who have shown compassion for the animals. Zoo is not a place for elephants.


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