To Mr Imran Khan
Reader of His Lordship Hon’ble Chief Justice Mr. Athar Minallah Court Room No.1, Islamabad High Court, Sector G-10 Islamabad

c/c Mr Owais Awan Advocate for the Petitioner H. No 168, Hill Road Pakistan Medical Co-operative Housing Society (PMCHS) Sector E-11/2

c/c Dr. Anis-Ur-Rehman, Chairman of Islamabad Wildlife Management Board Office of IWMB Murghazar Zoo Islamabad

8 June 2020

On behalf of the listed Members of the Pro-Elephant Network (PREN), a global community of elephant scientists, researchers and activists, we congratulate you on your outstanding victory in the Hon’ble High Court of Islamabad, where the rights of non-human animals have been recognised in a ground breaking Judgment.

Your historic presentation of the case of Elephant Kaavan, deprived of life and freedom for 35 years, and the hard work it entailed has gone to make this legal battle with few, if any, precedents.

We welcome the Judgment for its many key statements starting from the one which recognised that Kaavan, “has been treated cruelly by subjecting him to unimaginable pain and suffering for the past three decades and his continued captivity in the circumstances would expose the authorities to criminal consequences under the Act of 1890. The pain and suffering of Kaavan must come to an end by relocating him to an appropriate elephant sanctuary, in or outside the country”.

We are ecstatic about other ground breaking statements from your Judgment, including:

  1. “It is unnatural for a lion to be kept in captivity in a restricted area. To separate an elephant from the herd and keep it in isolation is not what has been contemplated by nature. Like humans, animals also have natural rights which ought to be recognized. It is a right of each animal, a living being, to live in an environment that meets the latter’s behavioural, social and physiological needs.”
  2. “The Act of 1890 [Pakistan Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1890] in fact recognizes the animals natural right not to be treated in a manner that subjects it to unnecessary pain and suffering. It is the constitutional and statutory obligation of the State and its functionaries to ensure that these rights are not infringed. It is also a natural right of every animal to be respected because it is a living being, possessing the precious gift of ‘life’.”
  3. “Humans cannot arrogate to themselves a right or prerogative of enslaving or subjugating an animal because the latter has been born free for some specific purposes. It is a natural right of an animal not to be tortured or unnecessarily killed because the gift of life it possesses is precious and its disrespect undermines the respect of the Creator. Moreover, as discussed above, the right to life of humans is dependent on the welfare, wellbeing, preservation and conservation of all animal species. Any treatment in violation of the provisions of the Act of 1890, or subjecting an animal to unnecessary pain or suffering, is an infringement of the right to life guaranteed under Article 9 of the Constitution.”
  4. “The destruction and loss of habitat also violates the fundamental right to life of a human. The State is responsible to ensure that no animal is treated in violation of the provisions of the Act of 1890 and the Wildlife Ordinance 1979. In order to refrain an authority from doing anything not permitted by law or to compel them to do anything the law requires them to do, this Court is vested with the jurisdiction to issue a writ of prohibition or mandamus, as the case may.”
  5. “After surveying the jurisprudence developed in various jurisdictions it has become obvious that there is consensus that an ‘animal’ is not merely a ‘thing’ or ‘property’. There is also no dispute regarding the fact that no animal deserves to be subjected to cruel treatment. Animals have emotions and ‘Happy’ [an elephant in a USA Zoo] had also successfully cleared the mirror test. Directly or indirectly the rights of the animals are also acknowledged. Some courts have declared particular animal species as non-human persons while others have gone to the extent of granting them the same rights as those of the human species guaranteed under the constitution.”

We applaud and recognise your efforts and dedication and would like to reach out and congratulate your Team for this huge achievement.

We are sure that cautious steps will now been taken to safely relocate the animals. In fact, the Court Judgement 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. While 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.

Furthermore, our specialists who have worked hands on with Elephants, would like to respectfully suggest that Kaavan needs to be placed in a management with Protected Contact (PC). This is crucial for the choice of the Sanctuary, his new home, as he has hardly been in Direct Contact (DC), a standard which many sanctuaries apply. For our knowledge, Kaavan was neither managed in real Protected nor in Direct Contact, as staff was mainly afraid of managing him directly (DC) and the zoo never improved its husbandry design for the Protected Contact. That would have allowed a more animal welfare friendly husbandry and care. For the best possible care in the future (regardless whether one might think of releasing him back into the wild one day or not), this Elephant must be cared for, in the Protected Contact management system, not only for safety reason but for the well-being of Kaavan himself.

PREN would like to acknowledge the work of the many wildlife activists, animal welfare organisations and the celebrities associated with them for their tireless work over many years to highlight the plight of Kaavan. Above all, the key team members of Friends of the Islamabad Zoo (FIZ) and the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB). We further applaud the acknowledgement of the case of Happy, the lone elephant in the USA, which the Non-Human Rights Project have tirelessly being trying to save, by the Honourable Judge.

On the world stage, your victory has given hope to many Elephants and other animals, languishing in unspeakably distressing and hopeless circumstances. We foresee that this case and the positive order of the enlightened Judge will help change and temper with compassion legal orders concerning captive held animals, in many other Countries.

Thank you once again for your admirable legal work and dedication to the cause.

Yours sincerely,

On behalf of the following Members of the Pro Elephant Network

Sharon Pincott Elephant Behavioural Specialist, ex-Hwange, Zimbabwe

Suparana Baksi-Ganguly Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation Centre, Bangalore, India

Dr Brett Bard Veterinarian, South Africa

Dr Jessica Bell Rizzolo The Conservation Criminology Lab. Dep. Fishery &Wildlife, Michigan State University

Prof David Bilchitz South African Inst. for Advanced Constitutional, Public and Human Rights, Intern. Law

Dr Gay Bradshaw Kerulos Center for Nonviolence – USA

Megan Carr Global March For Elephants and Rhinos

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

Stefani Falcon EMS Foundation, Future 4 Wildlife, South Africa

Michele Franco The Kerulos Centre for Non-Violence United States of America

Chief Stephen Fritz Members of the South Peninsula Customary Khoisan

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 Behavioural, Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisation

Peter Hodgskin Hands Off Fernkloof, Hermanus South Africa

Lynne James Mutara SPCA, Zimbabwe

Dr Paula Kahumbu Wildlife Direct, Kenya

Jim Karani Lawyer for Animal Protection in Africa

Prof Mohan Kharel Tribhuvan University, Nepal

Dr Winnie Kiiru Conservation Kenya

Robert Laidlaw Zoocheck, Canada

Kahindi Lekalhaile Africa Network for Animal Welfare, Kenya

Dr Keith Lindsay Conservation Biologist

Giorgio Lombardi Vogelgat Private Nature Reserve South Africa

Dr Smaragda Louw Ban Animal Trading, South Africa

Linda Masuze Advocates 4 Earth, Zimbabawe

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, South Africa

Dr Jan Schmidt-Burbach Wildlife Veterinarian

DJ Schubert Wildlife Biologist, Animal Welfare Institute, United States of America

Antoinette van der Water Bring the Elephant Home

Amy P Wilson Animal Law Reform South Africa

Julie Woodyer Zoochech 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 International

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