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The ‘World’s Loneliest Elephant’ now lives with 600 others like him4 min read

December 2, 2020 3 min read


The ‘World’s Loneliest Elephant’ now lives with 600 others like him4 min read

Reading Time: 3 minutes

An Asian elephant named Kaavan, who became widely known as the ‘world’s loneliest elephant’, has got a new lease on life. After spending more than three decades in isolation, the mistreated, unhealthy elephant was rescued by iconic American singer Cher and animal organisation Four Paws International. Kaavan is now in Cambodia, at a wildlife rescue centre with 600 other elephants. Let’s learn a little about his journey. 

Singer Cher meets Kaavan before his journey to Cambodia. Photo: AP

Sorry beginnings

Kavaan was a gift to Pakistan from Sri Lanka. He arrived at Marghazar Zoo in Islamabad in 1985 as a one-year-old. In 1990, he was joined by another elephant Saheli, with whom he shared an enclosure. Saheli was Kavaan’s only companion, but unfortunately, she died in 2012. This left poor Kavaan listless, and he developed a range of physiological and psychological issues. Elephants are social animals, and a solitary life can lead to a number of problems. 

Kaavan lived in solitude for years at a zoo in Islamabad. Photo: AP

Once Saheli passed away, animal lovers around the world petitioned to rescue Kavaan from the zoo, which has, over the years, been heavily scrutinised for mistreating animals with small enclosures and inhumane practices. In July this year, two lions died after inhaling smoke from a fire in their enclosure. What’s more, close to 500 animals have reportedly gone ‘missing’ from the zoo, while dozens others have died. 

The BIG move

Relocating Kaavan was no easy task. In fact, efforts to get him moved were on from 2016, and Cher played a huge role in bringing publicity to this campaign. Finally, on November 29, he was flown to Cambodia to start his new life. A special crate was made to ship the over-five tonne animal, and he travelled with wildlife veterinarians and a whole lot of food – 200 kgs of it! His doctor said that what helped Kaavan with this big change was music – it appeared to calm him.

In Cambodia, he was welcomed with open arms. “Cambodia is pleased to welcome Kaavan. No longer will he be the ‘world’s loneliest elephant’,” the country’s deputy environment minister, Neth Pheaktra, was quoted as saying. “We expect to breed Kaavan with local elephants – this is an effort to conserve the genetic fold,” he added. 

Kaavan shakes trunks with an elephant at his new home. Photo: AP

Here’s wishing Kaavan the best for a bright, larger-than-life future! 

Owliver’s Animal Bulletin

Owliver rounds up all the happenings in the animal kingdom every week. Let’s see what’s roaring this week:

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