I had a nice little weep of my own, reading this story. Elephants, like all life, are so sacred. They are largely conserved in this country, with much of the poaching and massacring of them for their tusks taking place further north in Africa. You can 'walk with elephants' at sanctuaries around the country or see them where they belong: in the wild African bush when you visit a game reserve on safari. And then there's a few of the original herd left in one of our East coast's forests.
Karen Danrich of the now-defunct ascendpress.org used to bring forth telepathic messages from the many animal kingdoms, where each collectively blessed humanity with their perspective on the biological ascension of humanity and this planet. Elephant brings the gift of self-acceptance, apparently.
This story of Raju the elephant also reminds me of a touching, life-turning experience had by a local hunter years ago. Hunter Lyndsay Hunt (no kidding!) changed his tune totally one day while out hunting antelope many years ago. He shot and wounded the animal and as he got closer, he saw a tear roll down the antelope's face. It changed him - forever.
He went from hunter to animal conservationist overnight, opening one of the few game reserves in an urban area. Which happens to have been around the corner from my neighbourhood. He housed a range of buck or antelope species, ostrich, buffalo and a Cape otter, amongst other species.
Then he became best buddies with a rhino (now being massacred across the country for the Asian horn industry). The young black rhino, Mokwena, used to let Hunt ride on his back, would lie down and sleep next to him and generally behave like a pet dog.
Unfortunately Hunt couldn't maintain the reserve financially and the animals eventually had to be sold off and moved to other parts of the country.
However, this story about Raju has a beautiful ending to 50 years in captivity!
October 24, 2015 by Amanda Froelich
For fifty years, Raju endured various forms of abuse and lived in chains 24/7. When he became aware of his rescue, the elephant couldn’t contain his emotions and began to weep.
Can you imagine what it would be like to live in confinement day in and day out, endure painful shackles around your feet, and be treated only as property, rather than a thinking, feeling being? That’s what Raju the elephant endured for fifty years, until finally – earlier this summer – he was gifted what should have been his all along: freedom.
For nearly five decades, Raju has walked the dusty roads of India, interacting with tourists for coins and food. When rescued his body bore the signs of malnutrition and scars from physical abuse, reports The Dodo. But, of course, the emotional toll Raju endured was no less traumatic.
Said Pooja Binepal of Wildlife SOS:
Raju’s case was particularly tragic. He has been sold on and on. We believe he has had up to 27 owners. By the time we found him he was in a pathetic condition. He wasn’t fed properly and was in a state of hunger and exhaustion. He began eating plastic and paper. His nails are severely overgrown, he has abscesses and wounds because of his spiked shackles and continually walking on a Tarmac road has led to his footpad overgrowing.”
In July, a team led by the UK-based animal charity Wildlife SOS intervened to liberate Raju from his cruel existence. When it became clear to the aged elephant that the team was there to help him, he began to weep.
“Raju was in chains 24 hours a day, an act of intolerable cruelty. The team was astounded to see tears roll down his face during the rescue. It was incredibly emotional. We knew in our hearts he realized he was being freed. Elephants are majestic and highly intelligent animals. We can only imagine what torture the past half a century has been for him,” shared Pooja.
The rescue took place one year after Raju’s unfortunate situation was first reported and a legal process was begun in partnership with local authorities to have him confiscated from his keeper.
The team worked tirelessly throughout the night to remove the sharp shackles from his feet.
Once freed, the elephant was relocated 350 miles away to Wildlife SOS’s Elephant Conservation and Care Centre at Mathura, where he received much needed medical care before becoming companions with the other rescued elephants at the sanctuary.
It is believed the elephant was abducted from his mother in the wild some 50 years ago and has suffered mistreatment at the hands of various owners ever since. Thankfully, his life is now drastically different and Raju is much happier.
“Until we stepped in he’d never known what it is like to walk free of his shackles,” says Binepal. “But today he knows what freedom is and he will learn what kindness feels like.”
To donate toward Raju’s care, contributions can be made at wildlifesos.org.
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