India is symbolized by elephants, tigers, lions and peacocks (and our favorite- the human like hanuman). Humans are supposed to be in a stewardship role (re: the Bible) and like the proverbial Noah we have a duty of care towards the flora and fauna all around us.
In the old days elephant ownership was a status symbol, usually associated with kings and emperors (and temples). Elephant represents Ganesha – the God you invoke before you worship any others. There would have been some ill-treatment but there were lot of decent (read god-fearing) people as well. Today we are left with only the greedy (addicts) and the cruel (sadists). These people should be behind bars for good.
Raju had been beaten and starved since being poached from the wild as
a baby and resorted to eating paper and plastic to fill his stomach. The chains and spikes wrapped around his legs had left him with chronic wounds and arthritis and he was in almost constant pain.
now he is walking free for the first time after a daring rescue by
conservationists with a court order by the Uttar Pradesh Forest
Department to take the elephant from his abusive owner.
The charity took Raju in the middle of the night on Thursday, supported by police and state officials. The
elephant’s mahout and previous owner tried to stop him being taken by
adding more chains and having people block the roads for the rescue
for hours to gain the elephant’s trust with fruit and encouragement
until they could get him into the van that would take him to a
When Raju was being rescued, volunteers said they saw tears rolling down his face.
Binepal, from Wildlife SOS UK, said: “The team were astounded to see
tears roll down his face during the rescue. It was so incredibly
emotional for all of us.
“We knew in our hearts he realised he was being freed.
are not only majestic, but they are highly intelligent animals, who
have been proven to have feelings of grief, so we can only imagine what
torture half a century has been like for him.”
Kartick Satyanarayan, the charity’s co-founder, said the mahout tried to make the elephant charge by shouting commands.
He added: “We stood our ground and refused to back down – and as we did so, tears began to roll down Raju’s face. “Some no doubt were due to the pain being inflicted by the chains, but he also seemed to sense that change was coming.“It was as if he felt hope for the first time in a very long time.”
Almost two days later and 350 miles away in Mathura, the chains were removed after 45 painstaking minutes.
video showed the moment they cut the painful spikes and chains binding
the animal’s legs so he could walk freely for the first time.
Satyanarayan said: “We all had tears in our eyes as the last rope which
held the final spike was cut and Raju took his first steps of freedom.”
Other elephants at the Conservation and Care Centre at Mathura came to watch the new arrival.
He is being fed to restore him to a healthy weight and vets are treating his many wounds and abscesses from beatings and chains.
at Wildlife SOS believe Raju started life in the wild but was caught as
a baby by poachers and sold as a working elephant.
said: “The poachers either slaughter the mother, or they drive the herd
into traps that are small enough only for the babies to fall into. The
mother cries for her baby for days after he’s been stolen – it is a
“The calves are then tied and beaten until they submit to their owners – their spirits are effectively broken.”
had almost 30 owners in his life but was found by the charity exactly a
year before his rescue, working as a begging elephant on the streets of
His owner, a drug addict, would tell pilgrims at religious sites his elephant could “bless” them in exchange for money.
tail was almost bare because the man had been ripping out hairs to sell
tourists as a good luck charm for hundreds of rupees.
elephant was covered in deep wounds from the spikes, as well as the
spear used to discipline him and abscesses from his chains.
He was kept chained outside with no shelter or rest, even in the summer heat, and was dangerously underweight.
Raju is now recovering in Wildlife SOS’ elephant sanctuary, where he will live with other rescued animals.
The charity, founded in India in 1995, is appealing for £10,000 of donations to help start the elephant’s new life.
To donate, visit www.wildlifesos.org, or cheques or postal orders can be sent to: Wildlife SOS, 483 Green Lanes, London, N13 4BS.