Guest post by veterinarian Dr. Fahad.
This essay, rather a story, has been written in the remembrance of my pet kitten “Baggu”, who is now in heaven. She taught me what animal welfare actually is.
Here I would like to sum up some of my very unique and enigmatic experiences that I have been living through during sixth semester of my DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) degree. In this semester my faculty offered five courses and two out of these five courses were directly discussing “Animal Welfare”. The semester continued in a very formal but in interesting way and we were taught a lot of literature about the concept and importance of animal welfare and animal-human bond. Continue reading
Today as the international community celebrates World Elephant Day, nobody in Karachi seems to have spared a thought for the four baby elephants in our city. We went to the Karachi Zoo to visit 10 year old Noor Jehan and Madhubala this evening.
Noor Jehan and Madhubala are the two baby elephants kept captive at Karachi Zoo. Captured from the wild in Tanzania and separated from their mothers by the late Pakistani animal trader Irfan Ahmed of Osaka Traders, they were brought to Karachi in 2009. The zoo, run by Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) claimed they were a gift from the Tanzanian government. There was much controversy reported in the newspapers on the import of the elephants even before their arrival to Pakistan. Continue reading
‘Death by negligence’ – these words are now nearly synonymous with the fates of the numerous animals unfortunate enough to call the Karachi Zoo their home.
Established in 1878 and originally called the Mahatma Ghandi Garden, it wasn’t until the independence of Pakistan, in 1947, that it was renamed the Karachi Zoo. Once the biggest attraction for people of all backgrounds in the city, to say that the zoo now is a shell of its former self would be a colossal understatement. Continue reading
We are looking for interns and volunteers to manage our upcoming stream of projects at our new office corner at T2F in Karachi. Spend your autumn working on exciting animal welfare related projects. You’ll get the opportunity to gain experience in animal rescue coordination, communication, research and writing, data analysis, documentation, community outreach and fundraising.
Animal lovers, writers, veterinary and zoology students, biologists, artists, graphic designers, filmmakers, photographers, architecture, statistics and business students are encouraged to apply. Continue reading
Guest post by Naeem Sadiq:
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.
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.
Guest post by Naeem Sadiq.
Having 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
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
Spare 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
Pakistan 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