An elephant once dubbed the ‘world’s loneliest’ could soon be rehomed with three females – and has already shown an interest in one of them, according to his caretaker.
Until last month, Kaavan, a 35-year-old Asian elephant, had been living in grim conditions in an Islamabad zoo.
He was the only elephant in Pakistan after his mate died at the Marghazar Zoo in 2012, allegedly from sepsis.
Following a campaign by conservationists and the American music icon Cher, he was flown to Cambodia on November 30and is currently living in an enclosure at the Kulen Prum Tep Wildlife Sanctuary.
An elephant once dubbed the ‘world’s loneliest’ could soon be rehomed with three females – and has already shown an interest in one of them, according to his caretaker. Pictured: Kaavan in his enclosure at the sanctuary in Cambodia on December 2
Kaavan’s new caretaker said the elephant has reportedly taken a shine to one of three females at the sanctuary. Pictured: Kaavan touches trunks with another elephant on December 1
He is reportedly adapting well to his new surroundings and is slowly being resocialised with other elephants after so much time alone.
If all goes well, Kaavan could be fully released into the sanctuary with the three female elephants in a few months the Phom Pehn Post reported.
‘We see that he is interested to interact with one of the three females,’ Sok Hong, president of the Cambodia Wildlife Sanctuary (CWS) and Kaavan’s new caretaker said.
Hong said he expects Kaavan to remain in his enclosure for a few more months in order to get used to other elephants and recover from his experience in Pakistan and long journey to Cambodia.
‘I think it will not be long because this elephant has already been domesticated to some extent,’ the Phom Penh Post reported Hong as saying.
‘Our immediate plan is to feed and train him to live like other wild animals. Elephants are emotional creatures with caring hearts like humans. And before Kaavan arrived here, he lost his loving partner. He still misses his mate,’ he said.
Cambodian Environment Minister Neth Pheaktra said in a statement following a visit to the sanctuary earlier this month: ‘Kaavan has been called the loneliest elephant in the world. He is not lonely anymore…
‘The team of conservationists who rescued him from a zoo in Pakistan prevailed in a legal battle, and the High Court of Pakistan decided to set Kaavan free and send him to live in our wildlife sanctuary.
‘We hope that Kaavan will help produce many Asian baby elephants for Cambodia.’
Asian Elephants are listed as endangered by the WWF. There are between 400 and 600 living wild in protected forest areas in Cambodia, which is also home to at least 70 domesticated elephants, according to the Phom Penh Post.
The paper reported that a ministry estimate put the cost of a 10-year action plan to preserve wild Asian elephants at $40.5million (£30,160,858).
Funding is expected to come from the national budget as well as NGOs and development partners.
American music icon Cher holds a license plate with her and Kaavan’s names on it as she waits for his arrival in Cambodia on November 30