Elephants are nomadic; in nature they are constantly on the move over ranges including hundreds of square kilometres, and it is therefore impossible for a zoo to provide an adequate amount of space for the elephants to exercise. Elephants are highly social, intelligent, cognitive animals and no zoo can provide the adequate social environment they require. Keeping two elephants together, a male and a female, does not come close to providing adequate social grouping.
There is no evidence that zoos contribute to the conservation of the species, and abundant evidence that captive elephants experience a range of health problems in captivity and they die at a much younger age than wild elephants.
There is a high risk of mortality during and after relocation of elephants. The capture poses long term high stress on both the elephants captured and the remaining family members. Furthermore, the members of PREN are concerned that there appears to be a lack of specific elephant expertise, including elephant specialist veterinarians, trained elephant handlers and individuals qualified in elephant husbandry, at the Peshawar zoo.
PREN members are concerned about the small size of the proposed elephant enclosure at the Peshawar zoo, the listed vegetation being alien to the African elephant, the absence of a mud wallow, the suggestion that the water pool will be removed, and the proposed enclosure of the elephants in a building that requires air conditioning as a form of temperature control. There is a dangerous moat surrounding the enclosure, which poses the ever-present risk of falling and injury.
A recent judgement by the Honourable High Court of Islamabad [2021 PLD Islamabad 6] highlighted Pakistan’s commitment to the defence of elephants kept in the confinement at zoos. Kaavan, a solitary male elephant was removed from the Islamabad zoo and was retired to a sanctuary in Cambodia, where he is in the process of being rehabilitated and rewilded. His mental and physical health is reported to have improved greatly since his relocation.
Pakistan landmark legal decision in support of freeing elephants in captivity was celebrated around the world. The event attracted significant global media attention. Kaavan is living proof that confining an elephant in a zoo is unnatural and that this confinement makes elephants ill. In 2021 we should all be aware that wild animals – especially elephants – should not be used for human entertainment.
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 Miller M.A., Hogan J.N., Meehan C.L. 2016. Housing and demographic risk factors impacting foot and muscoskeletal health in African elephants (Loxodonta africana) and Asian elephants (Elephas maximus). PLoS ONE, 11(7):e0155223. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0155223
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 https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-55132839 ; https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/11/30/kaavans-journey-to-freedom
The authorities in Pakistan are urged to re-affirm their decision to oppose this import, and Peshawar Zoo should extend the example of Islamabad, by confirming that no elephants should be exported from the wild to a life in close captivity.
The undersigned members and specialists of PREN agree that the government of Pakistan is correct not to complete the NOC documentation.
Stefania Falcon Pro Elephant Network Co-ordinator
The following members of the Pro Elephant Network have signed in support of this statement:
Owais Awan, Advocate High Court, Islamabad
Suparna Baksi-Ganguly, President and Co-Founder, Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation Center, Bangalore, India
Dr Brett Bard, Veterinarian, South Africa
Dr Jessica Bell Rizzolo, Postdoctoral Researcher, the Conservation Criminology Lab, Dep of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University
Professor David Bilchitz, Director, South African Institute for Advanced Constitutional, Public and Human Rights and International Law, South Africa
Dr Gay Bradshaw, Director, Kerulos Center for Nonviolence – USA
Megan Carr, Founder, Rhinos in Africa
Lenin Chisaira, Founder, Advocates 4 Earth – Green Law Connect, Zimbabwe
Dr Betsy Coville, Wildlife Veterinarian – USA
Nomusa Dube,Founder, Zimbabwe Elephant Foundation
Stefania Falcon, Co-Founder, Future 4 Wildlife, South Africa
Michele Franko, Senior Research Associate – Elephant Care & Wellbeing at the Kerulos Center for Nonviolence, USA
Chief Stephen Fritz, Chief, South Peninsula Khoi Council – South Africa
Dr Marion Garai, Zoologist – Captive Elephant Social Behaviourist
Dr Keith Lindsay, Conservation Biologist, Natural Resources Consultant
Rachel Harris, Managing Director, Elephant Human Relationship Aid, Namibia
Dr Ross Harvey, Environmental Economist, Botswana
Alok Hissarwala Gupta, Elephant Specialist, Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations
Iris Ho, Senior Wildlife Specialist, The Humane Society International
Peter Hodgskin, Founder, Hands-off Fernkloof, South Africa
Dr Paula Kahumbu, WildlifeDirect, Kenya
Professor Mohan Kharel, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal
Dr Mark Jones, Veterinarian, Born Free Foundation – UK
Nuria Maldonado, Ecologist, Environmental Science, Max Plank Institute
Jim Karani, Advocate, Lawyers for Animal Protection in Africa
Dr Winnie Kiiru, Founder, Conservation Kenya
Kahindi Lekalhaile, Africa Network for Animal Welfare, Kenya
Dr Smaragda Louw, Director, Ban Animal Trading, South Africa
Giorgio Lombardi, Warden Vogelgat Private Nature Reserve, South Africa
Linda Masudze, Advocate 4 Earth, Zimbabwe
Varda Mehrotra, Executive Director, Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations
Brett Mitchell, Director, Elephant Reintegration Trust, South Africa
Mary Morrison, Advocate, WildlifeDirect, Kenya
Sharon Pincott, Elephant Behavioural Specialist, ex-Hwange, Zimbabwe
Michele Pickover, Director, EMS Foundation, South Africa
Dr Yolanda Pretorius, SA Wildlife College, Elephant Behavioural Specialist, South Africa
Ingo Schmidinger, Elephant Husbandry – iScapes
Dr Jan Schmidt-Burbach, Veterinarian, Head of Wildlife Research and Animal Welfare, World Animal Protection International
Dr DJ Schubert, Wildlife Biologist, Animal Welfare Institute – USA
Antoinette Van de Water, Director, Bring the Elephant Home, South Africa
Prof Dan Wylie, Rhodes University, South Africa
IMAGE CREDIT: Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe
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