London 3 October – The mental condition of female African elephant Madhubala, who is still ailing in a small enclosure at Karachi Zoo, worsens every day. Despite the efforts undertaken by global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS, officials in Karachi still have not signed the Memorandum of Understanding. This is a precondition for the substantial overhaul of her new home in Karachi Safari Park and ultimately her relocation.
The plans for the reconstruction of her new enclosure were handed over to officials more than a month ago, but since then the communication has stopped. Madhubala’s new home is substantially bigger than her present one, making it species-appropriate as it will include a pool, enrichments and proper care management.
FOUR PAWS has intensified its efforts to move Madhubala after the tragic death of her long-time partner Noor Jehan in April this year. The relocation marks a pivotal time in the history of Pakistan as it will be the last African elephant leaving behind the captivity of a zoo in the country.
The death of Noor Jehan, as well as being in solitary confinement since this tragic incident, have taken a strong toll on the mental condition of Madhubala, Pakistan’s last female African elephant in zoo captivity. Her lonely days are numbered as officials have agreed on helping FOUR PAWS with the relocation. However, without a concrete moving date, days might turn into months, leaving Madhubala in misery and leaves the public in Karachi that is invested in Madhubala's fate wondering about the lack of action from the officials.
Mission leader of the FOUR PAWS expert team, Dr Amir Khalil, who is planning the relocation says: “We are more than ready to finally proceed with our plans for the relocation of Madhubala. What we need is a formal confirmation and an invitation by the Mayor of Karachi, Murtaza Wahab, so our team of experts can travel back to Pakistan as soon as possible. The urgency is eminent as she is in a pivotal state at the moment. Although physically healthy to the point that she can be relocated, her mental state worsens every day. Elephants are very social animals. They need the company of fellow creatures."
“After what happened to her beloved Noor Jehan, we cannot allow to expose Madhubala to any potential health risk. We need to act now by assisting the reconstruction efforts of her new home and starting to train Madhubala for the big moving day. The transport crate is already built and stands ready at the zoo. We cannot let her down, however, as long as the Mayor has not signed the agreement, our hands are tied.”
Dr Amir Khalil, FOUR PAWS Mission leader
In April 2023, after the tragic death of Noor Jehan due to mistreatment of local caretakers, the Minister of the Local Government in Karachi constituted a taskforce in regard to wildlife in captivity, zoos and the Safari Park in Karachi. The body consists of representatives from relevant local and provincial authorities, including Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) and international and local NGOs and animal welfare activists. The taskforce is empowered to take decisions regarding the Karachi elephants. During a visit in April, FOUR PAWS clearly stated their willingness to support the relocation of Madhubala, but only if it is done to a species-appropriate place, run by an independent body from the local authorities. The same has been expressed in the Letter of Intent addressed to the Administrator of Karachi from the 27th of April 2023.