After a very long wait and five years of struggle, Kaavan finally saw the bright day of light. Today at 2pm, he stepped his foot on Cambodian soil at last after arriving at Siem Reap International airport with his vet and mentor, Dr Khalil and his team.
Kaavan was dubbed as the ‘World’s loneliest elephant’ after living alone for many years at the Marghazar Zoo in Islamabad. He was held in chains for years in an insufficient enclosure and was forced to perform in front of visitors in the poorly managed zoo in the Pakistani capital.
On Sunday, Pakistani wildlife workers and experts from the international animal welfare organisation Four Paws, placed Kaavan into a custom crate for transportation to Cambodia Wildlife Sanctuary in Siem Reap.
Kaavan was prepared for his journey to Cambodia by receiving training for months, so he would get used to his new enclosed cage and not panic during his seven to eight-hour flight. The whole mission cost about $400,000.
The mammoth task of getting him into an elephant-sized metal box for transport took several hours and was perhaps the most crucial step in rescuing him from the dire conditions he’s lived in for 35 years.
“Had Kaavan been spooked and refused to enter the cage or bolted, his departure could have been delayed for months while the rescue team sought to restore calm and trust before trying again,” said Martin Bauer, Head of PR International – a spokesman for Four Paws International.
Dr Khalil and the whole rescue team said they are very proud of this success.
The famous singer Cher and the Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra personally welcomed Kaavan to his new home.