For captive elephants in India, space to roam is practically unimaginable. Tethered in the same place for hours, for many of them their lives are restricted to the inside of a circus tent, or the radius of the chain fixed firmly to their feet, that restricts even the most basic movement. Vast grasslands to forage on, crisscrossed with natural rivers and streams, and dotted with the lush green of trees are luxuries that captive elephants know nothing of, or possibly faintly remember from their childhood prior to being poached for illegal sale into captivity.
At the Wildlife SOS Elephant Conservation and Care Centre, we strive to give our amazing rescued pachyderms a taste of the freedom they would have experienced in the wild, and the biggest and most pivotal part of this is space to roam. In the wild, an elephant will roam anywhere between 10-20 km (7 – 13 miles) in a single day! This gives them a chance to forage, escape adverse conditions, exercise and locate vital water sources in their natural environment.
At ECCC, we give our elephants everything we can by way of enrichments, to keep them active and healthy, to combat the stereotypy and mental stress that comes as a result of years of abuse, neglect and boredom. But nothing can replace a long walk and the natural enrichment that our elephants receive during their walks, as the herds uproot grass and shrubs to munch on, scratch themselves on trees and lounge in natural mud wallows. The walks keep them healthy, helping Laxmi, who struggles with obesity due to a lack of proper nutrition during her time in captivity, lose weight, while keeping the older elephants active and giving the young ones the space to play and explore to their hearts delight.
Land plays such an integral part in the elephants’ lives and their recovery from the trauma and abuse they have suffered. Unfortunately, it comes at a price, and our finances are being stretched to the maximum to maintain and manage the land we have. In addition, ECCC is steadily reaching full capacity, and it would be unfair on our part to compromise on the space and care of the elephants we already care for. To enable us to rescue more elephants in need, and give them the freedom to roam that has changed the lives of our elephants so dramatically, without the problem of overcrowding, we have located and scouted an ideal piece of land to expand the facility. Located just a short distance from the existing centre, it has a stunning natural river flowing through it, surrounded by thickets and trees. It’s beautiful, and perfect for our elephants – more space for the ones already in our care and a new, safe home for the abused elephants out there that still need our help.
We need your help getting the land, and we’re asking you on behalf of every elephant that will find a safe haven on the land, to contribute to our land fund. You can donate to the purchasing of the land for expansion at this link.