Meet Raju, The Elephant Who Suffered 50 Long Years Of Painful And Cruel Bondage

Posted on August 4, 2014 in Environment, Society

By Nishant Chhinkwani:

“Raju has got a lot of wounds on his hind legs from the spikes on the chains he used to wear. There are a lot of wounds and penetrations in which there is a lot of pus. What I’m doing right now is trying to treat the wounds on his leg; you can see his leg is badly swollen and infected. But the problem is- He has lost his faith in humanity.” – Dr. Yaduraj Khadpekar, Wildlife SOS Vet

The last sentence can summarise the end result of Raju’s trials and tribulations in its entirety.

Raju is a member of the very proud and robust Elephas maximus indicus, subspecies of the Asian elephant. Chained for all his life, spanning over five decades, he was rescued from his own personal hell in Allahabad after a midnight rescue operation on July 4th by Wildlife SOS and the U.P. Forest Department.

Raju being served fruits by WSOS co-founder, Kartick Satyanarayan
Raju being served fruits by WSOS co-founder, Kartick Satyanarayan

The unexpected happened during this rescue operation; the tusk less tusker wept out of sheer relief.

That’s right.

Big, fat droplets of tears that symbolized intolerable cruelty and hardships faced by the once magnificent ‘beast’ who was chained by the ‘civilised’ for 50 long years.

Raju’s life story is like a classic Greek tragedy, only, it is far more tragic and heart wrenching. Possibly poached from the forest as a young calf, Raju has been treated as a commodity all his life, changing hands from one owner to the next at an interval of one or two years(27 estimated owners according to Wildlife SOS investigation). While the faces kept changing, the brutality he underwent did not and he was subject to daily abuse and beatings to discipline (sic) him for a life of begging so that the owner could extract the maximum profit out of him. The meagre food he was given kept him in perennial hunger, so much so that he even resorted to eating paper and plastic. Chains of metal spikes have bound him together for as long as memory can serve, and as Dr. Yaduraj of Wildlife SOS pointed out, his wounds have been festering for a long time and oozing pus, which placed him in great danger of losing his life. And yet, the torture continued. His cruel handler even tore out all the hair from his tail to sell them as lucky charms!

Raju Elephant

Lucky charms? Who’s civilised and who’s bestial now?

There’s an elephant in the room, and we don’t even acknowledge its presence, much less do anything about it. The saga of animal cruelty in our country has continued for hundreds of years now, but not much seems to have changed. Thousands of street dogs are ruthlessly put down, tigers and elephants are poached with impunity, circus animals still haven’t been able to form a union of their own to demand for their rights and are subjected to constant abuse, tortoises and great Ridley turtles are shipped out of the country illegally; and more keeps happening each day.

Yet, we turn a blind eye towards all of it. When confronted with the problem, we feign ignorance and helplessness or sometimes even show true colours of indifference- ranging from ‘not my businesses to ‘how can I help? I have no expertise.’

In a way you can, if you really want to.

Raju walking chain free

Wildlife SOS has taken care of the tricky part and has done most of the hard work. They have shifted Raju to the Wildlife SOS Elephant Conservation and Care Centre in Mathura (which was a delicate, 16 hour long operation) where his rehabilitation has begun. He has received emergency medical attention in isolation for some time and now has joined seven other rescued tuskers at the centre. Two of these are Bhola and Rajesh, whose history mirrors that of Raju’s. Bhola was blind and suffered severe spinal injuries as a result of being run over by a truck, but was still forced by his mahout to work till he was rescued. Rajesh was brutally abused at a circus and became highly dangerous before he began to trust the human touch again.

Wildlife SOS is now running a campaign along with Freshmonk, to raise funds and awareness for Raju. Through this campaign, they are selling Raju t-shirts. Get this t-shirt before the campaign ends to show your support. 100% of profits from these t-shirts will be used for Raju’s treatment, care and rehabilitation. The campaign ends three days from now.

Raju’s spirit is broken; humanity’s trust capital from his perspective is at an all time low. It’ll be months, maybe even years, before he can start trusting people again.

They say elephants have long memories. It is up to us to make sure that Raju lives the rest of his life in ease and comfort, so that the new memories he makes overcome the darkness of half a century worth of abuse and brutality and restore his faith in humanity.

Maybe. Hopefully.

WSOS

Get the Raju t-shirt and support the care and rehabilitation of elephants!

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