New enclosures: Safari Park makes room for elephants

Published: May 9, 2014
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An elephant is bathed at the Karachi Zoo on Thursday. PHOTO: PPI

An elephant is bathed at the Karachi Zoo on Thursday. PHOTO: PPI

An elephant is bathed at the Karachi Zoo on Thursday. PHOTO: PPI The elephants will now be living in a new enclosure that is suitable to their size. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: Four years after their arrival, the two elephants of the Safari Park, Sonu and Malka, finally got an enclosure on Thursday that is comfortable and suitable to their size.

Four juvenile elephants were brought from Tanzania in 2009 to the park but two of the females were handed over to the Karachi Zoological Gardens in 2010.

The new enclosures

“The pair needs the enclosed space and we hope the visitors like it,” said Safari Park director Salman Shamsi, adding that they are expecting an increase in visitors during the summer holidays.

“The new shelter is more comfortable than the older one and it will help them fight the heat,” said the park’s additional director, Dr Syed Kazim Hussain, who also designed the enclosure.

A bathing pool is constructed just to the left of the enclosure where the pair can rest when it gets too hot. The elephants are given three showers a day and are often allowed to walk outside the enclosure, he added.

Dr Hussain informed The Express Tribune that the pair has been growing in size and it was time to move them to a more suitable enclosure. Malka is now 10, while Sonu is seven.

The local government minister, Sharjeel Inam Memon, inaugurated the enclosure along with senior Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) officials. Memon said that more funds will be allocated in the new budget for all parks and zoos of the city, adding that several parks have been occupied by land mafias. “A campaign has been started against the mafia which occupy recreational spaces,” he said.

Expensive animals

Each elephant eats about 300 kilogrammes of food daily and fruit is a vital part of their diet. Dr Hussain said that maintaining the diet of the elephants was not an easy task, especially considering financial constraints but insisted that it is vital that they are provided the food that they require. “A hungry elephant is a dangerous elephant,” said Dr Hussain, who believes that the pair are now in a comfortable environment and may breed.

The construction of the elephant enclosure, which started last year under the annual development programme, has been completed at a cost of around Rs20 million .

Not quite a safari

The Safari Park is the largest safari in South East Asia, covering a total area of 265 acres and has almost 470 animals. However, the only ‘big’ animal in the park are the elephants as four of the animals considered essential for safaris – lions, hippos, giraffes and rhinos – are all missing.

“All necessary measures are being taken to develop it into an internationally acclaimed recreation centre,” said KMC administrator Rauf Akhtar Farooqui, adding that the glaring lack of other big animals is not lost on the administration and promised that they will be brought to the safari soon.

While talking to the media, Farooqui said that the dearth of veterinary doctors in the Karachi Zoo and the Safari Park is being addressed gradually and the services of four doctors and zoologists have been acquired to ensure that the animals are looked after.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 9th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (2)

  • Ali S
    May 9, 2014 - 6:19PM

    The outdated concept of a zoo consisting of animals in cages is outlawed in most developed countries and the rest of the world should follow. It’s cruel, inhumane and takes a toll on the animal’s health and lifespan – and our public’s tendency for misbehavior (children throwing food and sticks into the enclosures) doesn’t help.

    Instead of keeping animals in enclosures, ‘Safari’ Park should prove its name true and keep the animals open in a large open natural environment with guarded borders where humans tour the facility in buses or caged trucks. That’s how a lot of zoos and safari parks in the developed world operate (I’ve been to one in Canada). Karachi Zoo should also adopt this format. It will be better for the animals’ health and generate more profit since people prefer watching animals roam freely in natural environments.

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  • Ibrahim
    May 9, 2014 - 9:43PM

    The article mentions the Safari is largest in South East Asia….. But Pakistan is NOT in South East Asia, but SOUTH ASIA. I have heard this wrong geographical term for Pakistan expressed by so many people in Pakistan, I am guessing they are taught the geographic location of Pakistan incorrectly. Pakistan is in South Asia. South East Asia consists of countries like Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam. Please make this correction. Thank you.

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