‘Do you believe’: Pakistan elephant set for flight after Cher campaign

ISLAMABAD (AFP) – Following years of public outcry and campaigning by American pop star Cher, the “world’s loneliest elephant” embarked on a mammoth journey from Pakistan to a sanctuary in Cambodia.

The famed singer and Oscar-winning actress has spent recent days at the Islamabad zoo to provide moral support to Kaavan – an overweight, 35-year-old bull elephant – whose pitiful treatment at the dilapidated facility sparked an uproar from animal rights groups and a spirited social media campaign by Cher.

Kaavan’s case and the woeful conditions at the zoo resulted in a judge this year ordering all the animals to be moved.

“Thanks to Cher and also to local Pakistani activists, Kaavan’s fate made headlines around the globe and this contributed to the facilitation of his transfer,” said spokesman Martin Bauer for Four Paws International – an animal welfare group that has spearheaded the relocation effort.

Cher “has quite a big platform so we have really appreciated what she has done for Kaavan since 2016”.

Dubbed by the press as the world’s loneliest elephant, Kaavan is the only Asian elephant in Pakistan – the tiny number of other pachyderms at other zoos are African.

Cher recently arrived in the Pakistani capital to see the elephant before the long journey to a 10,000-hectare Cambodian wildlife sanctuary, with Prime Minister Imran Khan personally thanking the 74-year-old star.

A man helps placing a crate into an enclosure prior to transport Kavaan to a sanctuary in Cambodia. PHOTO: AFP