Pakistan’s ‘loneliest elephant’ starts new life in Cambodia

Singer Cher has helped rescue Kaavan, ‘the world’s loneliest elephant’, from decades of captivity.

Kaavan, Pakistan’s loneliest elephant, is finally free.

He has been flown to a Cambodian wildlife sanctuary to start a new life after being held in miserable conditions at Islamabad Zoo for the past three decades.

A global outcry and campaigning by US singer Cher over the decades-long mistreatment of Kaavan went viral several years ago.

Often called “the world’s loneliest elephant”, 36-year-old Kaavan was the only  Asian elephant in Pakistan.

A petition to free him garnered more than 200,000 signatures after it emerged he was being kept chained.

“We are able to move Kaavan to Cambodia, where he will have a bigger place, a place where he can be an elephant,” Dr Amir Khalil, a veterinarian with Four Paws International, said. “There he will be with other elephants, other familiar elephants. He will finally have a family after all these years.”

Cher, who has written songs calling for Kaavan to be rescued, spent the past few days with him in Islamabad.

The Islamabad High Court had ordered wildlife officials to consult with Sri Lanka, where Kaavan is from, to find him a “suitable sanctuary” within 30 days.

The court also ordered dozens of other animals to be temporarily relocated while the zoo improves its standards.

“I’m so happy, and I’m so proud that he’s here,” said Cher upon Kaavan’s arrival in Cambodia. “He’s a wonderful, wonderful animal.”

This video was edited by Al Jazeera Newsfeed’s Katya Bohdan.