When we first spoke about Priyanka elephant in November of last year, we could only share a few pictures of her – blurred out or cropped – and tiny incomplete snippets of information. Talking about who she was, disclosing information or releasing her pictures in public would have been detrimental to her rescue, and would severely endanger the lives of our informers and possibly even the elephant.
It is the rallying together of supporters and elephant lovers across the world that helps the rescue team at Wildlife SOS bring elephants to safety, and it gives us immense joy to be able to share news of our elephants with our incredible network of supporters around the globe. Which is why, when we received persistent queries and concerned questions from people who had contributed to Priyanka’s rescue and were anticipating her safe arrival at our centre, it was difficult for us to keep mum about her whereabouts and the setbacks we were facing with bringing her to safety. Still, for fear of jeopardizing her rescue, we were forced to remain silent for nearly a year.
Finally, in November 2017, a year after we first exposed Priyanka’s plight to the world, everything aligned to set up the perfect opportunity for her rescue. We had to move quick, and stealthily to ensure that she be brought to safety without alerting anyone or attracting any unwanted and potentially threatening attention.
We were finally able to tell the world and all our loyal supporters about Priyanka’s rescue once she was safely in our ambulance and on her way to her new home at the Elephant Conservation and Care Centre, Mathura – and we were greeted with ecstatic joy and relief from everyone.
Once Priyanka was at the centre and safe with us, we felt it was time to share her complete story with the people that helped make her rescue a reality, and we scheduled a webinar about her rescue with lots of new pictures and previously unheard of details about her former life and the adventure that was her journey home.
The webinar was presented by Wildlife SOS’ Elephant Campaign Manager, Rhea Lopez, who took the audience through Priyanka’s past including the painful reality of the abuse she had suffered as a working elephant and the physical and mental scars it had left her with. Rhea then detailed the nitty-gritties of elephant rescues, with the complications of paperwork and safety concerns, before walking the listeners through the journey Priyanka and the rescue team took to her new forever home at ECCC.
The webinar took on a more positive note as it described all the things Priyanka has to look forward to at the centre- fresh food and the care of the dedicated staff at the centre, as well as the emotional support of a family of elephants! The webinar even cut out to a delightful video of Priyanka making friends with our wonderful rescued female elephant Laxmi. The details of Priyanka’s health assessment were revealed along with information regarding the course of treatment the veterinarians had planned for her to help get her onto the road to recovery.
Unfortunately, the webinar ended on a somber note, with the announcement that Priyanka’s owner had filed a case in court asking for her to be returned to him, but a heartfelt promise that we are doing everything we can to ensure she stays safe with her new family. You can sign the petition for her freedom here.
The final phase of the webinar was open to the audience who had the chance to ask Rhea their insightful questions and concerned doubts about Priyanka’s story and the plight of India’s elephants.
In case you missed out on the webinar, you can still catch the recording at this link!