FOUR PAWS: “There is hope for the Karachi elephants, if improvements are made”

FOUR PAWS: “There is hope for the Karachi elephants, if improvements are made”

Wildlife experts recommend urgent tusk surgery for elephant Noor Jehan


Karachi, 30 November 2021 – Global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS has completed its two-day assessment on the wellbeing of four African elephants in Karachi Zoo and Karachi Safari Park in Pakistan upon the request of the Sindh High Court. On 30 November, the FOUR PAWS team presented their findings to the High Court.

For the vets and wildlife experts, the priority is the immediate medical care of all four elephants. One of the elephants, Noor Jehan, needs major surgery for a painful infection of her broken tusk urgently. Furthermore, all four elephants should be reunited at Karachi Safari Park, proper diet and enrichment must be provided, and the staff needs to receive proper training.

The female elephants – one of which was believed to be male up until the assessment – came to Pakistan together in 2009 and were separated after their arrival. They are the last captive elephants in the country.

After the examinations at Karachi Zoo and Karachi Safari Park, the FOUR PAWS expert team, including Dr Amir Khalil and Dr Marina Ivanova from FOUR PAWS as well as Dr Frank Göritz and Prof Thomas Hildebrandt from the Leibnitz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW), concludes that the most urgent step now is the medical treatment of the elephants.

“Noor Jehan and Madhubala at Karachi Zoo have broken tusks and Malika and Sonu at Karachi Safari Park have problems with their nails and feet. They all need urgent medical treatment, but Noor Jehan has a painful infection in her broken tusk that she might have had for years. This requires a complicated surgery done by experts as soon as possible and is essential for her wellbeing. If our recommendations are implemented, the elephants can recover from these health issues.” 

FOUR PAWS veterinarian Dr Khalil

All four elephants also express behavioural problems which come from years of inappropriate keeping and frustration over not being able to live out their natural instincts. The team also discovered that elephant Sonu, who was believed to be male for over ten years, is actually female.

Improvement of keeping conditions and proper care as long-term solutions

The experts recommend that a long-term solution to improve the elephants’ lives is a reunion of all four at Karachi Safari Park. However, although the park provides enough space and natural surroundings, it has been neglected and needs major improvements.

“The elephants need sand and water to engage with and take mud baths. Instead of being fed with hundreds of kilos of sugarcane, the elephants need a healthy, balanced diet. It is also extremely important that they receive proper foot care. The keeping conditions must meet the species-specific needs and in order to properly care for the elephants, the staff must be properly trained as well. We hope the High Court will consider our recommendations and initiate that the elephants receive the care they so urgently need,” says Dr Khalil. FOUR PAWS will continue to support the Pakistani authorities with its expertise and assistance if required.

Pakistan recently banned elephant imports

After the rescue of the former ‘loneliest elephant in the world’, Kaavan, in November 2020, by FOUR PAWS and pop icon Cher, followed an important decision with regard to animal welfare in Pakistan: In September 2021, the Islamabad High Court announced a ban on the import of new elephants into the country. FOUR PAWS had previously advised the Ministry of Climate Change to not allow any new elephants coming to Pakistan.

The African elephants FOUR PAWS examined were caught in the wild by a Pakistani animal trader at a very young age in Tanzania and arrived in Pakistan in 2009. Noor Jehan and Madhubala were moved to Karachi Zoo while Malika and Sonu were brought to Karachi Safari Park. According to official information, they are the last four African elephants in captivity in Pakistan.

Elephant in Pakistan

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Katharina Braun

Katharina Braun

Team Lead Public Relations

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FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions.

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