By Resham Beri
In an eleven hour long rescue operation that lasted from 9 pm to 8 am, Lakshmi, an 18 year old ailing elephant was rescued by the Forest Department of Maharashtra in collaboration with Wildlife SOS. She was rescued from cruel owners in Mulund. The elephant is now safe with us at Widlife SOS. She is under proper treatment and care with the veterinarians and animal care staff at Wildlife SOS’s Elephant Rescue and Intensive Care Center in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh.
“Thane Forest Officials and Wildlife SOS have taken charge of Lakshmi and relocated her to the Wildlife SOS Elephant Rescue Center in Mathura. The Uttar Pradesh Forest Department has give its final clearance for the transfer which has led to the successful rescue of Lakshmi Elephant” said RK Pole, Chief Conservator of Forests (Thane).
A team of about 20 officers from the Forest Department, Police and Wildlife SOS rescued Lakshmi from the Wagale Estate, where she had been concealed by her owners in an attempt to evade the law enforcement agencies.
The operation that was carried out in the wee hours of the night involved walking Lakshmi to a safe location 5 kms ahead where she could be easily loaded onto the truck. Lakshmi was unable to get on the truck herself due to her health problems. Wildlife SOS then rented a hydraulic crane to lift Lakshmi onto the truck.
Dr. Yaduraj Khadpekar, our veterinarian who had been looking into Lakshmi’s health condition from the very beginning gave her a light sedative to keep her calm during the rescue operation. He said, “The rescue operation had to be executed at very short notice when the Forest Department located where the elephant had been hidden by the owner. There were many unforseen obstacles that we could not prepare for. We were dedicated to saving Lakshmi as we had already witness Bijlee Elephant’s death and did not want Lakshmi to suffer the same fate. I am glad that we were able to successfully rescue Lakshmi. All along the journey from Mumbai to Mathura we had to keep resting and feeding Lakshmi while ensuring she was safe and not stressed from the journey.”
Lakshmi is a captive elephant and was used for street begging by her owners in violation of the laws. The owner paid no attention to her health owing to which Lakshmi has become extremely obese and is suffering severe joint pains making her prone to acute arthritis as well as other ailments. Unforunately her companion, Bijlee owned by the same people could not be rescued in time and died a month ago in pain, due to severe neglect by her owners.
Wildlife SOS co-founder- Geeta Seshamani said, “Lakshmi is a classic example of captive elephants being neglected and mismanaged due to ignorance and greed of the owners. Wildlife SOS is working with the state governments and Govt. of India to bring about awareness and change in the welfare of these captive elephants.”.
Please help us care for Lakshmi by donating at: http://wildlifesos.org/donate