Q. What’s Sanjay’s story? How did you come to know about him?
Ans: A twist of fate brought the elephant under the custody of the forest department and they requested our intervention. Years of abuse and mistreatment had had a detrimental effect on the elephant’s health. Partially blind in the left eye, Sanjay was severely malnourished with severe wounds on his body and even tail. The elephant’s feet are also in a terrible condition with overgrown toenails and inflammation.
The district Court had issued an order stating that the elephant be sent to the Elephant Conservation and Care Center in Mathura. Although we initially planned to rescue this elephant after Priyanka as we are in the process of securing additional land for the elephants, we were then informed that there was a secret effort to get a stay on the court order and if that happened then the elephant would disappear and there were strong chances that we may never find him again. We realized that we had to act fast and had a really small window of 36 hours to move the elephant after which it could take us months or even years to locate him again.
Q. What was the sudden need to rescue him immediately?
Ans: Like we mentioned above, we had a really small window of 36 hours to move the elephant after which it could take us months or even years to even locate him again. With the court case pending against them, the owners would do everything in their power to make the elephant ‘disappear’ before he could be taken to safety, should they get their hands on him again. We knew about his health condition and we did not want to lose our chance to help him and show kindness through human hands.
Q. Since you have not been rescuing Priyanka because of lack of available land. Where do you plan to accommodate him? Or after rescuing him where will he be housed?
Ans: He will be housed currently on our existing facility in Mathura but it will be a compromise on the space available to our existing elephants.
We now need to procure the land more than ever, as once we have the new land secured, Sanjay will have a new enclosure, barn and pond all to himself.
Q. Why are his tusks sawed off? Do you think they were to sell the ivory at some point in his life?
Ans: The tusks of captive bull elephants are often trimmed to make them safer to work with in captivity. The ivory trimmed off Sanjay’s tusks was illegally sold by his former owners in the black market in the illegal wildlife trade. We currently do not have details about the whereabouts of his ivory, but our intelligence gathering team is working on that. If and when we learn about his ivory, we shall work with the authorities to address that issue.
Q. Is Sanjay one of your biggest elephants? How old is Sanjay?
Ans: Yes, Sanjay is the biggest elephant in terms of size/height as compared to all our rescued elephants at our centers. He is approx. 50 years old.
Q. Why would it cost $50 K to go rescue an elephant?
Ans: $50,000 is only about half of what it usually costs us to rescue an elephant. The costs of creating the infrastructure for a bull elephant can easily be over $ 100K. Costs also add up very fast with rescue operations. We still have a legal battle ahead of us to protect Sanjay’s newly secured freedom for which the mounting legal costs can become a large liability.
Q. What are you doing about Priyanka now? When will you rescue her?
Ans: Our intelligence teams are tracking Priyanka and we constantly have our eyes on her. We hope to launch a rescue operation for Priyanka as soon as we have our logistics in place and the land we desperately need to provide her and many other elephants with a safe home.