Category Archives: Animal Welfare

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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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

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

Captive whales and dolphins in Karachi

Karachi: The Friday, November 8 DAWN has an article by Faiza Ilyas about the arrival of Stephen, a Beluga whale from Moscow, for the entertainment of Pakistanis. Marine mammal shows are scheduled to be held next month by a private firm despite reservations by nature conservation experts on the violation of animal rights.

Beluga whale“We strongly suggest to the government and the agencies concerned to reconsider the initiative and look into the matter in detail. There are sufficient opportunities for public to see wild dolphins off the shore of Pakistan, especially Karachi. They can be observed without too much effort or expense and the experience is much more rewarding,” stated the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in a statement. Continue reading

Canine casualties: For city admin, citizens’ failings, stray dogs pay with lives

By Danish Hussain in The Express Tribune:

CDA shoots 106 stray dogs in two days; lawyer offers to set up animal shelter; vet asks public to put collars on pets. ISLAMABAD: In some parts of the world, dogs are considered man’s best friend. In Islamabad, the city managers consider them nothing more than moving targets.
Zeeshan Munir decided to write to the chairman of the capital’s civic agency against the brutal killing of stray dogs after a two-day shooting spree carried out by the Capital Development Authority (CDA).
The 28-year-old said he would offer to establish a sanctuary for stray dogs, provided the CDA could earmark a piece of land in the capital or its suburbs. “I can run the shelter at my cost,” Munir said.

More here.

All creatures great and small

Faiza Sultan Khan in DAWN:

I was tweeting, as one does, some photographs of a litter of tiny puppies recently, in the hope that some kind soul with enough self-esteem to not require a pedigreed dog to cement their social status may consider taking one home.

Their mother had been run over and they were whining little furballs barely a month old, and living in what was essentially a deathtrap next to a busy main road. A stray dog is of course not just ‘as good’ as a pedigreed one, but hardier, better suited to the environment, not as delicate as pedigreed animals and also less likely to have a coat more suited to a life in, say, the Swiss Alps.

It seems to me the duty of all decent people to take in stray dogs, not just for the lifetime of love and joy they guarantee but also to make up for their barbaric countrymen to whom casual cruelty to animals is something of a pastime.

More here.

Hopeful: The story of my adopted disabled dog

By Kanza Wyne in The Tribune

HopefulThe first time I saw Hopeful I was shocked. Could anything look so pitiful? I was expecting a healthy dog that just couldn’t use his hind legs but what I got was a bag of bones with a protruding vertebra and red raw bedsores where the bone was visible at places. He was encrusted with months, perhaps years of faeces and smelled like a whole coop of hens. What really got to me was the thick rusted chain that was looped around his neck. For God’s sake the dog couldn’t even drag himself a foot away and here they had this prison chain dangling which only helped in getting tangled in his legs and tearing open his wounds further.

More here.

Disabled dog finds home

home Just wanted to share the good news that a loving family has adopted the disabled dog and took him home this morning. Here he is all comfy and curled up enjoying the love and attention he’s been receiving all day. He’s been measured by Duke’s Pet Wheelchairs for a custom built wheelchair which should be ready in a few days. Meanwhile, he’s in good spirits, eating well and really, really enjoyed the car ride! We think he will be up and running outdoors on his new wheels in no time. Will post more photos and a longer update by his new family soon.