Elephant

Emotional Reunion for World’s Loneliest Elephant and Rescuer

Once dubbed the world’s loneliest elephant, Kaavan is relaxing into his new life in Cambodia after being relocated from Pakistan, and almost two years after landing in the Kingdom, he enjoyed a reunion with his rescuer
Elephant Kaavan in his enclosure being visited by Amir Khalil at a wildlife sanctuary in Siem Reap, August 22, 2022. Kiripost via FOUR PAWS
Elephant Kaavan in his enclosure being visited by Amir Khalil at a wildlife sanctuary in Siem Reap, August 22, 2022. Kiripost via FOUR PAWS

It has been almost two years since Kaavan, the world’s “loneliest” elephant arrived in Cambodia and his rescuers from FOUR PAWS paid him a visit when they were welcomed like old friends – with a raised elephant's trunk.

“Much to the delight of veterinarian Dr Amir Khalil, who is moved by this emotional reunion and amazed once again by the elephant's memory capacity,” FOUR PAWS said in news release on Wednesday.

The 38-year-old elephant from a run-down zoo in Pakistan was relocated to Cambodia Wildlife Sanctuary in December 2020.

Kaavan came to Pakistan as a gift from Sri Lanka in 1985. From 1990, he lived with his partner Saheli. However, since her death in 2012, Kaavan lived a lonely existence as the last Asian elephant in captivity in Pakistan, according to FOUR PAWS.

Elephant Kaavan in his enclosure being visited by Amir Khalil at a wildlife sanctuary in Siem Reap, August 22, 2022. Kiripost via FOUR PAWS
Elephant Kaavan in his enclosure being visited by Amir Khalil at a wildlife sanctuary in Siem Reap, August 22, 2022. Kiripost via FOUR PAWS

In May 2020, the Islamabad High Court decided that all animals living in Islamabad Zoo had to be relocated to sanctuaries. This sparked not only the rescue of Kaavan but 38 other animals that FOUR PAWS relocated to species-appropriate new homes.

Khalil said that rescuing Kaavan back in 2020 has been one of the most memorable moments of his entire life.

“Before coming here today I often thought about how Kaavan would react when he sees me. When I approached, I could tell that he is doing so much better than when we last met. Kaavan looked me in the eyes, and then suddenly, he raised his trunk as if to greet an old friend. I could not help but sing to him the same song I had sung before I left back then, ‘My way’ by Frank Sinatra.”

Josef Pfabigan, CEO of FOUR PAWS, said that despite seeing Kavaan doing so well and everyone who contributed can be proud of having secured a good life for him, a lot remains to be done for other animals in captivity.

Pfabigan added, “FOUR PAWS will keep up the direct work for animals in need, continue its policy work on the ground, and the connection between policy decisions, animal welfare and human lives needs to be pointed out over and over.”

To prepare Kaavan’s historic plane transfer, the FOUR PAWS team practiced with him the safe and stress-free entry and exit into and from the transport crate.

FOUR PAWS said Khalil also used creative methods to keep Kaavan calm by serenading the elephant with Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’. Worldwide, only a handful of adult elephants have been relocated by plane. For FOUR PAWS it was the first elephant air transfer.