Last week, we told you about Raju the elephant who was rescued by Wildlife SOS after spending a lifetime working for a cruel owner who kept him chained up with iron spikes so he could beg for food.
Since July 4th, Raju has become an Internet sensation, the story of his rescue covered by major news organization. His rescue was documented by Wildlife SOS which was established in 1995 by a small group of individuals wanting to protect and conserve India’s natural heritage, forests and wildlife wealth.
Critter Files friend Jane Armstrong made a good point: how do we know Raju was crying tears of happiness when he was finally unshackled after decades of being made to perform as a “begger elephant” in India?
What is known is Raju is a 50 year old makna (tuskless male) bull elephant who has lived all his life in chains with very little to eat. Not much is known about Raju’s early years but it’s possible he was poached from the forest as a young calf and then sold to several people, one after the other, all his life.
All through this, he was subjected to daily abuse and beatings to ‘discipline’ him for a life of begging so his owner could make a profit from him.
Wildlife SOS investigation indicates that he was traded as a commodity every one to two years of his life and even dragged to the Sonpur elephant fair in Bihar where elephants are illegally traded under the guise of exhibition.
When Raju was rescued, his latest owner was a drug addict who kept him in spiked chains, forced to beg for coins and fed only paper and plastic.
At the Wildlife SOS sanctuary, Raju has been taking showers and walks around chain free holding a few bananas for a snack. It was bananas and other food that was used to lure Raju into the truck that ferried him away from his previous owner.
The sanctuary has received tons of interest since photos of its rescue of Raju were released earlier this month.
It’s asking for a generator to replace its current one. Without a generator, it takes 18 hours to fill the pool used by all the elephants.
They’re also hoping for a tractor to create dirt mounds for elephants that have a difficult time getting up and down and it is more comfortable for the elephants to lay on mounds of dirt… especially our skinny ones like Raju.
Raju’s veterinarian Dr Yaduraj Khadpekar says the next period of time will be critical for the rescued elephant.
The next six months with Raju will be very challenging due to his past history of cruelty that was inflicted on him. We are confident that he will soon recover and have a healthy and happy life ahead – something that he deserved a long time ago!”