Unchaining the elephants – and the minds of our zoo managers

Guest post by Naeem Sadiq:

Karachi zoo elephant exhibit

We agreed to disagree. That may be a polite expression to describe the interview a group of ‘ele-friends’ (Rumana Husain, Mahera, Sajjad and Naeem) had with the Director of the Karachi Zoo. The more we systematically enumerated our well-rehearsed roles and arguments, the more we realised that two sides were not ‘on the same page’. Our conclusion – there is no way the elephants in our zoos could be unchained – till the minds of the Zoo Managers remained chained to the era of the ‘Company Bahadur’.

The American Association of Zoos considers solitary housing of elephants as an act of exceptional cruelty. To chain them is to multiply that cruelty a hundred times. Regrettably, those responsible for elephants in Pakistan are simply incapable of imagining any other existence for these friendly animals except chains, cells, confinement and the prison-like surroundings of a zoo.

Given as a gift (free of cost) by the Tanzanian Government, the Zoo showed the deal as ‘purchase from contractor’ at a cost of Rs.9.9 million per elephant. So while ‘Noor Jehan’ and ‘Madhubala’ brought prosperity and fortune to the Zoo management, they could not imagine that their own lives would become an unending saga of torture and agony. The zoo managers consumed millions of rupees and spent some four years to build two wretched and miserable cells (ironically called ‘rest rooms’) to house the two elephants. The cells are lined with tiles and cement to afflict extra pain and injuries, while the area of the cell is just enough to snugly fit a restrained elephant.

Elephants live with  families and freedom in their natural habitats in jungles. They enjoy long walks, plucking tree branches and taking mud baths. By housing them in narrow prison-like surroundings and keeping them chained for long hours, the Zoo management is indulging in a criminal activity, punishable under the Cruelty to Animals Act.

On a practical note, one does not foresee either a change of heart or a change of mind on the part of the officials responsible for the Zoos of Pakistan. They simply do not see anything wrong with how they treat the elephants. A society that does not show care and kindness towards its animals cannot be expected to act humane towards its citizens. Will the animal loving people of Pakistan come forward and demand that all elephants be ‘unchained’ and moved from their cells to sanctuaries. Will they raise their voice – loud enough to be heard in the heartless and mindless corridors of power.

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Managing Karachi University’s stray dogs

  
On Tuesday November 10th concerned citizens met with Karachi University’s Vice Chancellor Dr. Muhammad Qaiser about putting an end to the stray dog killings on the university’s campus. The meeting was initiated by Sam Sattar, an animal lover who’s been at the forefront of creating awareness about humane stray dog management.
Karachi University has been poisoning and shooting dogs on its campus for decades. Pakistan Animal Welfare Society and others at the meeting urged the Vice Chancellor to consider adopting the university stray dogs as part of their natural environment and working toward neutering and vaccinating them. This would create a stable and safe stray population that would also prevent other outside dogs from moving on campus. It would also over time reduce the campus dog population as they wouldn’t be able to breed and produce more puppies. The remaining dogs would be rabies free and pose no threat to the students and staff on campus.
Dr. Qaiser said he agreed culling dogs was barbaric and welcomed other solutions. He hoped someone would step in and remove the dogs for them. When it was explained to him how it was necessary to maintain a familiar population to prevent new dogs from coming in he relented and agreed to a proposal for a project and subsequent meeting to discuss it.
The World Health Organisation and doctors of the Pakistan chapter of Rabies in Asia recommend mass vaccination and spay/neuter campaigns as an effective and humane method to deal with rabies and stray dog populations in developing countries. Such campaigns are already in practice in our neighbouring countries like India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh. 
It is hoped that necessary resources can be pooled in time to create a pilot project on the campus of Karachi University that is more befitting an educational institution of higher learning than routine culling of dogs.

Elephants – from cells to sanctuaries

Guest post by Naeem Sadiq.

Karachi Zoo elephants Oct2015Having been chained for 20 years, ‘Saheli’ the female elephant of Islamabad zoo could no longer bear the ordeal of life in confinement, standing in one posture, infections in her feet and agony in her soul. She died on May 1, 2012. The six remaining elephants, thinly spread in four different zoos of Pakistan await a similar fate. ‘Kaavan’ in Islamabad, ‘Suzi’ in Lahore, ‘Noor Jehan’ and ‘Madhubala’ in Karachi zoo and ‘Malika’ and ‘Sonu’ at Safari Park. Ironically it is not our love but gifts, poaching, smuggling and selling that forcibly removed these elephants from their natural habitats. The elephants in our zoos may well be compared with the prisoners of Guantanamo – caged, tied with chains, confined in solitary cells, ill-treated, ill-fed and emotionally battered. Continue reading

Free Kaavan, the Islamabad Zoo elephant

Kaavan the Islamabad Zoo elephant Recently we, the Pakistan Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), received a letter from a concerned citizen about the plight of Kaavan the lone African elephant in captivity at Islamabad Zoo. Kaavan was donated to Pakistan by the Bangladesh government 28 years ago. Chained for decades on concrete by all four legs up to 24 hours a day, he is made to endure a life of solitary confinement – considered one of the worst punishments for human beings in jail. It is enough to drive any sentient being to psychosis and is something visitors to the zoo witness on any given day. Continue reading

World Elephant Day

390491_10150512580733593_1978168856_nSpare a thought for the six elephants in captivity in Pakistan this World Elephant Day.

Kaavan, the lone Asian elephant in Islamabad Zoo, was donated by the Bangladesh government 28 years ago and is kept in chains. Suzi, the lone female African elephant at Lahore Zoo fares no better.

Four African baby elephants are in Karachi. They were captured from the wild in Tanzania, separated from their mothers, and kept in solitary confinement at a ‘quarantine station’ at the Safari Park a day after their arrival in 2009. Continue reading

Humane solutions – stray dog management for Pakistan

IMG_2735Pakistan has been shooting and poisoning its stray dogs for decades now. Not only is this cruel and ineffective, it is madness given there are humane alternatives to stray dog population management and rabies control. “Killing dogs is not the solution as it does not stop the disease; mass dog vaccination is the only proven solution.” says World Animal Protection, an international organisation that works with governments and helps provides vaccination plans involving local communities. Continue reading

Customs asked to explain what action has been taken against turtle smugglers

Report in EXPRESS TRIBUNE:

smuggled turtlesKARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) has called a report on the proceedings initiated by the Customs authorities against the alleged traffickers of 218 rare, black-spotted turtles. A division bench, headed by SHC Chief Justice Maqbool Baqar, also directed the deputy attorney general to file replies of the interior ministry and the climate change division on efforts to curb the smuggling of endangered species from Pakistan. The bench also issued a notice to the alleged trafficker through the Customs court to appear on December 12.

More here.

29 permits issued to Gulf states royal families for houbara bustard hunting

Bhagwandas in DAWN:

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 7.04.20 pmKARACHI: The federal government has issued at least 29 special permits to royal family members of the Gulf states — the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and the Kingdom of Bahrain — for hunting the internationally protected houbara bustard in Pakistan, it emerged on Saturday.

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Sindh High Court stays proceedings on turtle smuggling case

confiscated turtlesSeveral newspapers yesterday covered the ongoing turtle smuggling case in Pakistan. Please read and share widely. Turtles and tortoises are listed as endangered species by IUCN and CITES as their population is on the verge of extinction. These stories give us an opportunity to send appreciative letters to the editors about the importance of wildlife conservation. Do thank them for the coverage of wildlife issues in their publications and demand justice for the voiceless.

Be sure to let us know if a publication prints your letter(s) so we can share your success with other writers. Thank you for all your efforts in behalf of animals! Continue reading