Cher Sheds Tears of Joy as Pakistan’s ‘Loneliest Elephant’ Wins Bid For Freedom

An elephant at the Murghazar Zoo in Islamabad, is set to be freed thanks to a May 21 ruling by the Pakistan High Court.

Pop icon Cher, who advocated for four years on his behalf, calling him “the world’s loneliest elephant”, is celebrating the news.

“THIS IS ONE OF THE GREATEST MOMENTS OF MY LIFE,” she tweeted.

Since at least 2016, animal rights groups have worked tirelessly for the release of Kaavan, a 33-year old Asian elephant from Sri Lanka, whose only playmate died eight years ago in the zoo.

To facilitate the court’s ruling, Pakistan’s Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) is working to—at last—find him a “suitable sanctuary”.

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“The pain and suffering of Kaavan must come to an end by relocating him to an appropriate elephant sanctuary,” the court wrote in its ruling.

The world was mobilized into action, sending petitions to the Pakistani government, after photos showed the elephant living in terrible conditions, sometimes chained.

Friends of Islamabad-Zoo Facebook Page

The IWMB has assembled an eight-member committee to arrange the relocation of Kaavan. Members include WWF senior director Rab Nawaz, biodiversity specialist Z.B. Mirza, an Islamabad Zoo veterinary officer, IUCN’s Nilanga Jaysinghe, and co-founder of Save the Elephant Foundation Derek Thompsan, according to a June 6 report by Gulf News.

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The court had also directed that all the other remaining animals be moved to temporary sanctuaries within 60 days—including brown bears, lions and birds—while the zoo improves its standards, reported Al Jazerra.

Kaavan first came to Pakistan at the age of 1, as a gift for the country’s leader at the time. Since his companion Saheli died in 2012, he has not been able to enjoy the company of other elephants. His release will give him the opportunity to live out his life among a social group of his peers.

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Cher sent one of her representatives to the zoo in 2016 to advocate for Kaavan. That same year, she also advocated for human rights by delivering water to Flint, Michigan, during its drinking water crisis.

The pop star is incredibly thankful that hers and others’ efforts have paid off. “It’s so emotional for us that I have to sit down,” she wrote.

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Indigenous Group in Brazil Wins Decades-Long Battle Against Illegal Loggers in the Amazon

A victory in a decades-long court battle provided relief for a special part of the Amazon rainforest and for the Ashaninka indigenous people who live there, as their 1990s lawsuit against illegal logging interests finally ended with a public statement of apology and a $3 million award for compensation.

Forestry companies and their legal teams acknowledged the “enormous importance of the Ashaninka people as guardians of the forest, zealous in the preservation of the environment,” in their official apology which claimed regret “for all the ills caused.”

Francisco Piyãko, part of Ashaninka leadership said, “These resources come to enhance existing actions, to generate sustainability for our people, our land, so that it helps to strengthen us to continue the broader project of environmental protection and maintenance of our ways of life.”

Yale’s School of Forestry & Environmental Studies suggested that the Attorney General, Augusto Aras, believes this case could be a turning point in environmental and indigenous peoples lawsuits.

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“What we did here was to comply with the Constitution, understanding that the indigenous people have sacred rights guaranteed by the Magna Carta,” Aras said in a statement. “You have the right to have a decent life, materially speaking, to choose your own destiny, to take part in political decisions, with respect to isolated communities.”

Beginning in 1980, forestry firms started harvesting mature cedar and mahogany trees for the European furniture trade in the Kampa do Rio Amônia Indigenous Reserve. The money awarded in the settlement will be paid over 5 years, and will be put mainly towards reforestation projects.

“The case will define hundreds of thousands of cases on massive environmental crimes in Brazil,” Antonio Rodrigo, the attorney for Ashaninka, said according to Latin Post.

(File photo by Nishaan ahmed)

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