As part of an initiative to help improve the living and working conditions of the elephants of Jaipur, Wildlife SOS in collaboration with the Rajasthan Forest Department is working closely with the elephant owners and mahouts or caretakers of these elephants to create a more humane and safe environment for these wonderful animals.

After a careful and detailed survey into the lives of the elephants in Jaipur, to understand fully the extent of their hardships, and the conditions in which they worked and lived, the elephant team from Wildlife SOS began organising a series of workshops by resource persons from Wildlife SOS for the owners and caretakers of the Jaipur elephants. The first in the series was held on the 23rd of January 2017 on veterinary care and management of captive elephants taking cognizance of the fact that many aspects of veterinary care in captive elephants are often overlooked or neglected, and can be damaging or even fatal to the overall long-term health of the elephants.

Wildlife SOS has worked with elephants across the country, addressing medical problems, welfare concerns and management issues, and takes a holistic approach to the problems– preferring to work directly with the owners and mahouts under the guidance of the Forest Department, to allow for quicker, more comprehensive long-term results in the best interest of the elephants.  The organisation also rescues elephants from particularly abusive or neglectful conditions in illegal captivity, and rehabilitates them at its Elephant Conservation and Care Centre in Mathura.

The workshop on the 23rd of January 2017 took place at the Nahargarh Biological Park and featured interactive talks by the veterinarians from Wildlife SOS’ elephant rescue centre, along with practical demonstrations on key areas of medical intervention like footcare, geriatric care and preventive medicine. Attended by 24 elephant owners and nearly 50 mahouts, the workshop focussed on common health problems of captive elephants and the medical intervention, preventive, palliative and curative care. This was followed by free participative exchange of ideas as the mahouts shared their remedies for elephant problems.

Close on the heels of the workshop, Wildlife SOS and the Forest Department organised an exposure visit for the mahouts and elephant owners of Jaipur to the Wildlife SOS Elephant Conservation and Care Centre in Mathura. The exposure visit was organised in two batches – with 50 persons visiting the center on the 07th of February, followed by another group of 53 seven days later.

The visits were kicked off by an interactive presentation by Wildlife SOS senior veterinarian Dr. Yaduraj Khadpekar in which he discussed the various components of management practiced at our rescue center, and gave the group a brief introduction on all the different things they would be seeing during the exposure visit, including enclosure designs, humane management techniques, nutrition and feeding, and practical of foot care, and provision of water and enrichments for the elephants.

The group was then introduced to our wonderful rescued elephants, including the delightful Lakshmi, who was an absolute star when giving a demonstration on the target training and positive conditioning means of humane management employed at the center. The group even got to watch how the veterinary team is able to carry out an entire checkup (including a blood draw!) on bull elephant Suraj without using any negative reinforcement at all.

Visibly impressed by the entire visit, the mahouts and owners were quite enthralled through the day and left with a renewed concept of how elephant management can be. Wildlife SOS is dedicated to improving the lives of the elephants of Jaipur and will be working closely with the keepers, owners and the Forest Department in Jaipur to do all we can to make life as comfortable and safe as possible for these majestic beings.