VICTORY FOR KAVAAN
AN OPEN LETTER ADDRESSED TO:
Mr Owais Awan Advocate for the Petitioner H. No 168, Hill Road Pakistan Medical Co-operative Housing Society (PMCHS) Sector E-11/2
Mr Dr. Anis-Ur-Rehman
Chairman of Islamabad Wildlife Management Board Office of IWMB
Ms. Mishael Ali Khan
Founder of Friends of Islamabad Zoo (FIZ) House No. 31-A
Street 23, Sector F-6/2
c/o Kevin Schneider
Executive Director Nonhuman Rights Project firstname.lastname@example.org
8 June 2020
Dear Advocate, Chairpersons and Directors,
On behalf of the Pro-Elephant Network (PREN), a collective of global Elephant scientists, researchers and activists, we congratulate you on your stupendous and historic victory in the High Court of Islamabad.
The world is delighted and thrilled at the Order given by Hon’ble Chief Justice C.J. Athar Minallah, High Court of Islamabad, Pakistan when he recognized the right to life of non-human animals and directed that Elephant ‘Kaavan’ of the Marghazar Zoo and the Black Bear, must be immediately moved to a sanctuary. This, alongside the required move of all the other animals from the zoo in due course into more appropriate facilities, is an extremely welcome move.
Elephant Kaavan reflects the fate of other Asian Elephants in captivity, which have been ‘gifted’ as a token of diplomatic exchange and appreciation. Elephant Kaavan, who was given by Sri Lanka in 1985, has, consequently, been suffering and in distress for over three decades. His fate was followed keenly by many animal welfare groups all over the world, as he remained confined to a small enclosure in a zoo.
We rejoiced with you, as the High Court came down heavily on the issue of captivity and the cruelty meted out by the zoo management. The Court empathized with the pain and loneliness of Elephant Kaavan and the trauma that ignorant visitors to the zoo subjected him to.
The Judge based his findings on various international cases such as ‘Sandra the Orangutan’, that was declared as a ‘non-human person’ by the Criminal Appeals Court of Argentina in 2014 and ‘Arturo the Polar Bear’ who was termed the ‘world’s saddest bear’ after companion ‘Pesula’ died. Arturo ultimately also died in the sweltering heat of Mandoza.
The Judge made reference to the landmark judgment by the Supreme Court of India in the Jallikattu (bull taming sport) matter, and by drawing reference to the personal liberty and freedom of Elephants Sundar and Sonu of India.
The Court also cited the legal status of animals under international law and Islamic religious scriptures by quoting the Hadith, “Whoever is kind to the creatures of God is kind to himself’. Most importantly, the High Court concluded that animals are not ‘things’ or ‘properties’ of humans.
The court said, that ‘life’ is the birthplace of legal protection. An object or thing has no right. “Animals are undoubtedly sentient beings…it is also a natural right of all animals to be respected because it is a living being, possessing the gift of ‘life’. Humans cannot arrogate to themselves a right or prerogative of enslaving or subjugating an animal because the later has been born free…The right to life of humans is dependent on the welfare, well-being and conservation of all animal species.”
Your success in highlighting the injustice to Kaavan, has focused the world’s attention to crimes against all animals held captive globally. The world will now be watching to see what happens next.
We respectively implore that those with authority, ensure Kaavan and indeed all the animals, are moved to expertly assured accredited sanctuary facilities so they can finally have the opportunity to live out the rest of their lives with dignity, in peace and without fear of physical or psychological suffering.
The Court ruled that priority was given to move Kaavan and the black bear within 30 days and the removal of all animals within 60 days would have followed. Caution on this particular decision is necessary. While in fact we want those in charge
of moving the animals to meet the Court requirements, this must be done with thorough and expert consideration: rushing a move for any of the animals could result in serious welfare concerns or even death, particularly in the heat of the summer.
We, once again want to express our gratitude: without your hard work and consistency in pursuing a better life for Kaavan, this Judgement may never have happened. It is the voice of compassionate reason and is a massive step in the right direction.
We congratulate you and hope that many more such enlightened judgments emerge from the global Courts of Justice.
We would be remiss not to mention the good work of the wildlife activists who have highlighted the treatment of Kaavan and his physical and mental well-being over a number of years. These organisations and the celebrities linked to them applaud this “bold step” by the judiciary of Pakistan.
Above all, the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) and key team members of Friends of the Islamabad Zoo (FIZ) including Owais, Katie, Naveed, Ammar, Numair, Sanila, Celesta, Ambreen, Mishael, Mohib, and the volunteers.
We also thank Mark Cowne from Free the Wild and all other organisations, including the Non-Human Rights Project, who tirelessly work for the acceptance of rights and dignity for elephants and other animals.
Thank you, immensely from all of us, who watched this drama unfolding in the life of this unfortunate Elephant and its eventual success together with the other non-human animal victims at the zoo. We hope this Judgement sets a precedent for all animals in zoos, for whom the Courts may be their last resort for life and freedom.
Sharon Pincott Elephant Behavioural Specialist, ex Hwange Zimbabwe
Dr Brett Bard Veterinarian, South Africa
Dr Jessica Bell Rizzolo The Conservation Criminology Laboratory, Department Fishery & Wildlife, Michigan State University
Professor David Bilchitz South African Institute for Advanced Constitutional, Public and Human Rights, International Law
Dr Gay Bradshaw Keurlos Centrer for Nonviolence United States of America
Megan Carr Global March for Elephants and Rhinos Organisation
Anna Centura Future 4 Wildlife, Europe
Lenin Chisaira Advocates 4 Earth, Green Law Connect Zimbabwe,
Dr Betsy Coville Wildlife Veterinarian United States of America
Nomusa Dube Zimbabwe Elephant Foundation
Stefania Falcon EMS Foundation, Future 4 Wildlife South Africa
Michele Franco The Kerulos Centre for Nonviolence, United States of America
Chief Fritz Members of the South Peninsula Customary Khoisan Council South Africa
Dr Marian Garai Elephant Specialist South Africa
Johanna Hamburger Wildlife Attorney, Animal Welfare Institute United States of America
Rachel Harris Elephant Human Relationship Aid, Namibia
Alok Hissarwala Gupta Elephant Behaviour Specialist Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations
Peter Hodgskin Hands Off Fernkloof Hermanus Cape Town
Lynne James Mutare SPCA, Zimbabwe
Dr Paula Kahumbu Wildlife Direct Kenya
Jim Karani Lawyers for Animal Protection in Africa
Professor Mohan Kharel Tribhuvan University, Nepal
Dr Winnie Kiiru Conservation Kenya
Rob Laidlaw Zoocheck Cananda
Kahindi Lekalhaile Africa Network for Animal Welfare, Kenya
Dr Keith Lindsay Conservation Biolgist
Giorgio Lombardi Volgelgat Private Nature Reserve, Hermanus South Africa
Smaragda Louw Ban Animal Trading South Africa
Linda Masudze Advocates 4 Earth Zimbabwe
Varda Mehrotra Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations
Brett Mitchell Elephant Reintegration Trust South Africa
Mary Morrison Wildlife Direct, Kenya
Michele Pickover EMS Foundation South Africa
Dr Yolanda Pretorius Elephant Specialist
Dr Jan Schmidt-Burback Wildlife Veterinarian
DJ Schubert Wildlife Biologist Animal Welfare Institute United States of America
Antoinette van de Water Bring the Elephant Home
Amy P Wilson Animal Law Reform South Africa
Julie Woodyer Zoocheckk Canada
Professor Dan Wylie Rhodes University South Africa
Ingo Schmidinger Four Paws International, European Elephant Group
Nuria Maldonado Ecologist Max Planck Institute
Image Credit: Four Paws
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