Malika and her rotting foot.
Malika, a captive elephant held at the Safari Park Karachi, suffers from a painful foot disease. Years of torturous locking up for 20 hours each day in a narrow cemented cell, of which 15 hours involve being chained to floor have taken their toll. Unless immediate measures are taken, the disease will spread, leading to the elephant’s death or perhaps a painful ‘Kaavan’ like deportation.
Elephants are the largest living terrestrial mammals. Their feet carry that huge body mass of around eight tons. When kept in captivity, they suffer excessively from various feet ailments which often turn out to be fatal. Elephants kept in enclosures with hard floor surfaces covered in urine and faeces can cause infections around the foot pad. It is estimated that 50% of captive elephant deaths are caused by these afflictions.
There is an immediate need to stop chaining and encaging of the two elephants at the Karachi Safari Park. The Karachi Safari Park which is currently riddled with concrete, commerce, an under-construction hotel, numerous foundation stones, tattered buses and an ill-managed appearance must be converted into a genuine animal friendly sanctuary. There is no reason why a decent world-class sanctuary cannot be developed at the entire 148 acre area earmarked for the park.
The other two elephants imprisoned in Karachi zoo should also be shifted to the Safari Park. Once the sanctuary is developed, most ungulates which are currently confined to small enclosures could also be released in a sanctuary that replicates the natural habitat of these animals.