Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Where Abused Elephants Go to Heal

It is fitting that this should be happening in India.   This is after all the foundation stock of what will be a global elephant herd in the millions.

We have the capacity of communicating with them through mind images.  This will lead to herd management of our global forest tracts.  Think about the boreal forest in particular.
All good.

Where Abused Elephants Go to Heal

By Vijay Pandey


In Hindu mythology, Lord Ganesha, son of Shiva and Parvati, is considered the god of wisdom, good luck and success. On his birthday, celebrated in August or September and referred to as Ganesh Chaturthi, huge processions of singing and dancing devotees take place in various Indian cities. Ganesha, the playful elephant-headed god is a symbol of new beginnings in India. And elephants form a big part of these religious festivities.

On a board titled “Forgotten Past” hang chains and hooks that have been used on these elephants to tame them.

But they suffer, and sometimes significant abuse, to become mere showpieces in these festivities and other celebrations, royal functions and circuses — and the elephants’ bodies finally give way. To deep wounds. To arthritis. To broken bones. And serious infections.

There are currently 27,312 elephants in India, according to the 2017 elephant census, conducted by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. And many live and die serving and entertaining human beings. During their captivity, elephants are controlled with big hooks that sink into their skin, and iron hobbles and tethering chains, which cause serious damage to their bodies. And souls.

Just this past November, in Mathura, a town 112 miles south of Delhi, in the dusty neighborhood of Churmura, the first-ever hospital for ailing elephants was opened by the conservation nonprofit Wildlife SOS India. The facility, built next to an elephant conservation center, is spread over some 12,000 square feet and currently has 20 rescued elephants who are undergoing treatment for various diseases and afflictions.

Doctors and mahouts (trained elephant keepers) insist that these “tuskers” can’t be left alone in jungles. “They have always been in human company. They won’t be able to live in the wild,” explains senior veterinary officer Dr. Yaduraj Khadpekar. And because each elephant has its own individual handler who knows and recognizes its behavior, mannerisms and routine, “in most cases we try and rehabilitate the elephant’s handler as well [so they don’t lose their livelihoods],” says Arinita Sandilya, a Wildlife SOS spokesperson. In cases where this isn’t possible, “we do have mahouts who then take charge.”

A handler treats an elephant’s foot with turmeric powder. This is a daily care routine at the hospital.

Ailing tuskers have been brought to the Wildlife SOS Elephant Hospital from different parts of the country. Elephants being treated at the hospital, and subsequently rehabilitated at the conservation center, fall between the ages of 10 to 80 years. Almost all of them have stark wounds in their feet and deep cracks on their legs and other areas of their body as a result of their “taming” — inflicted by massive chains and pointed knuckles. One elephant rescued from a temple had developed deep wounds, but they were always concealed with bright clothes to attract foreign tourists. His injuries went unnoticed until he was rescued. Many tourists are shocked when they hear the elephants’ stories, handlers say.

A handler gives fruit to an elephant as it undergoes treatment for his wounds.

Inside the center, these tuskers have formed friendships and families. Some become friendly toward one another, and some are irked by the presence of others. Peanut and Coconut, two female elephants, are kept in a single enclosure inside, and they play and bathe together in the Yamuna River nearby. Maya and Phoolkali, two other females, have formed their own “girl group.”

Vijay Pandey, OZY AuthorContact Vijay Pandey

The Daily DoseJAN 08 2019

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