Elephant helped by Cher relocated to new animal sanctuary

·2-min read

Pakistan's loneliest elephant is being relocated to a new sanctuary in Cambodia after popstar Cher campaigned for him to be rescued.

The elephant, named Kaavan, has spent 35 years in Marghazar Zoo in Islamabad without proper socialisation and has been on his own since his partner died in 2012.

In May, Pakistan's high court ordered the closure of the zoo where the animal spent most of his life.

Once the campaign to have him freed caught Cher's attention she began campaigning and writing songs urging for his release.

On Sunday, wildlife workers and experts, led by animal rescue organisation Four Paws, winched a sedated Kaavan into a custom-designed crate to help move him.

The elephant was lifted out of the enclosure on to a truck, where a military convoy escorted him to Islamabad's airport.

Kaavan is currently on a 10 hour flight to Cambodia's airport before a further five-hour truck journey to the city of Siem Reap, where the sanctuary is located.

Four Paws, which is based in Vienna, has led the charge to save Kaavan and provided the medical treatment needed before he can travel.

The organisation said his handlers have more than 200 kilograms of food, including bananas and melons, for him to eat during the journey.

Cher, who visited him in Islamabad, will apparently be reunited with him in Siem Reap.

The animal welfare group that she co-founded with UK businessman Mark Cowne, called Free The Wild, has worked with Four Paws and the American syndicated columnist and philanthropist Eric Margolis to relocate Kaavan.

Cher has also been filming a documentary on the rescue with the Smithsonian Channel.

In a statement from the Smithsonian Channel, Cher said: "I found out about Kaavan from the people on my Twitter. I thought, 'how can I fix this? How can I save an elephant who's been shackled to a shed for 17 years and who is a thousand miles away?'

"This is Free The Wild's first big rescue and I am so proud."

Dr Amir Khalil, a veterinarian with Four Paws, said: "In the sanctuary in Cambodia... waiting for him is three ladies, three Asian female elephants.

"Now Kaavan might have a new partner, and share a new life with a partner."