Kaavan's first contact: ‘former loneliest elephant in the world’ makes a friend in Cambodia

The 36-year-old bull elephant spent much of his life alone but has been resettled at a wildlife sanctuary after a campaign led by Cher

Kaavan's first contact with other elephants

Kaavan's first contact with other elephants
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Kaavan the elephant interacted with another elephant for the first time in years after being taken from Pakistan to Cambodia on Monday.

He was resettled following a global campaign led by American singer Cher.

Animal welfare organisation Four Paws moved Kaavan – an overweight, 36-year-old bull elephant – from Islamabad Zoo to a wildlife sanctuary in Oddar Meanchey province in northern Cambodia and announced the meeting between the animals on Twitter.

"Seeing Kaavan interacting with other elephants is a huge moment for us but more importantly for Kaavan. We are extremely moved," the organisation tweeted on Tuesday, along with a photo of Kaavan reaching through the bars of a fence to touch trunks with another elephant.

Kaavan arrived in Cambodia by cargo plane to start a new life with 600 other elephants.

Cher wrote songs that urged authorities to release Kaavan from grim, isolated conditions in the zoo where he spent much of his life alone.

She spent time with the animal in the days before he was flown to his new home.

The singer was also on the tarmac at the airport of Cambodia's second-biggest city, Siem Reap, to greet the elephant and met the vets who accompanied him on his long journey in a custom-made crate, with more than 200 kilograms of food to keep him busy.

Dozens of wildlife workers and experts used a winch and rope to pull the sedated elephant into the crate before he was loaded on to the Russian-built cargo plane.

His crate had the words #FreeKaavan painted on the side.

Neth Pheaktra, Secretary of State and spokesman for Cambodia's Environment Ministry, praised Four Paws and Cher for their efforts to help Kaavan and said Cambodia would be the ideal home for him.

"Cambodia is pleased to welcome Kaavan. No longer will he be the world's loneliest elephant," he said at a welcome ceremony.