ASHA FINDS HOPE! STARTS HER NEW JOURNEY WITH WILDLIFE SOS

February 21, 2015 | By wildlife@dmin

After 46 long years of being chained and leading a life of suffering, Asha was freed on 20th February, 2015 by Wildlife SOS with the cooperation of the Forest Department. She is currently being escorted to her new home by a ten member expert team from the Wildlife SOS Elephant Care Center including three veterinarians and several animal care staff in a truck that was specially prepared with food and medicine for any eventuality.

Asha (name means HOPE in Hindi) is a female elephant aged approximately 46 years who has been trained using cruel techniques as a performing elephant. When not used in circuses, she was enslaved to masters who used her for elephant rides in Amer fort in Jaipur. Once forced to trudge up steep stone paths in Amer fort, ferrying tourists back and forth, she was injured and that incapacitated her. She was then sold to be a begging elephant and for performing at weddings and other parties and smuggled to Indore without any valid documents to a new owner who did not really provide the care for she needed. Elephant rides in the Amer fort have been a controversial issue for quite some time as the elephants are made to climb steep inclines several times in the day with extremely heavy howdahs and tourists on their back in temperatures that are some of the highest and driest in India. Several elephants have fallen to their death from the fort while ferrying tourists.

As a begging elephant Asha did not have the good luck of a kind owner. Asha was chained all day in the heat with spiked shackles which inflicted several wounds on her legs. Her right front leg is critically injured with severe pain in the elbow and knee joints and abscesses on both back legs with overgrown toenails make her plight worse. The right side of her face is severally wounded with what appears to elephant experts to be fresh injuries from callous use of a bull hook or “Ankush”.

With the cooperation of the Chief Wildlife Wardens of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, the Wildlife SOS team of experts from the Elephant Care Center in Mathura travelled to Indore to rescue Asha and accompany her back. The Wildlife SOS team reached the location a few days prior to the rescue to make the elephant comfortable for the journey and familiarize herself with elephant keepers who will be accompanying her.

Finally, with all the permits and paper work for the road trip ready, on 20th February, 2015, Asha’s journey started off at 6 pm when a team led by the Wildlife SOS veterinarian Dr.Vibha Raghuram, Dr Sanio and a team of paravets and elephant keepers gently helped ASHA into the special ten wheel truck and embarked on the journey to the Elephant Care Center Mathura.

Dr Vibha Raghuram, Wildlife SOS Veterinarian, said, “Asha has an old injury in one of her legs that has caused long term damage & unbearable pain, making her severely handicapped. She is unable to walk properly and is mentally traumatized due to the torture she faced all her life.”

Geeta Seshamani, Co founder Wildlife SOS said “At her new home, Asha will no longer be abused with spikes or beatings and will have her own enclosure to walk in freely sans chains with access to a fresh water pool. She will also have the company of nine other elephants and learn to be part of a social group, something which is very important in the emotional life of an elephant.”

Kartick Satyanarayan, Co-Founder Wildlife SOS said, “We had to step in and act quickly as we were informed that Asha’s life was in grave danger if she did not receive immediate veterinary treatment and emergency care. We are very grateful to the Chief Wildlife Wardens of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh whose prompt action facilitated the timely rescue of Asha. The next few months with Asha will be very challenging due to her past history of ill health and neglect that was inflicted on her. We are hopeful that with long term medical care, she will be on the road to recovery.”

Mr. A K Joshi, DFO Indore, M.P. Forest Department said, “We are happy that the abused elephant will now receive necessary medical care at the Elephant Conservation Care Center in Mathura.”

Dr Sanio, Wildlife SOS Veterinarian said, Asha has lived an unusually difficult life having been in her youth, used for performances, after which she had the misfortune of being used at Amer fort for tourist rides and then being purchased for begging. Amer fort is notorious for its steep climb up with the heavy ‘howdah’ and tourists on her back, in a climate that is very hot and dry in India. It makes us feel good to know that one can give Asha a new life of dignity, care & love for the remainder of her life.”

Her name ‘Asha’ means ‘HOPE’. Let’s join hands and give her some hope for a new life.  She needs to retire now and to give her immediate treatment and lifetime care, we need funds. To care for Asha, please follow the link: http://wildlifesos.org/donate/

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