New Delhi, INDIA (September 3, 2014) Chances are you either saw the video or heard the story of Raju the elephant, who was rescued this past July in Uttar Pradesh, India after being held captive for almost 50 years in chains. A court date has been set for September 11th to decide whether Raju should return back to his owner who abused and tortured him or that he continue to live at the Wildlife SOS Elephant Conservation and Care Center in Mathura, India.
Musicians Lucius Lowe & Kevin Lehnberg launched a song titled Raju Stand Tall on September 1st and it’s already ranked #6 as “the most popular track” on the UK iTunes. There is even a rumor in Hollywood of a possible ‘Raju’ film in the making.
At the time of Raju’s rescue, he was emaciated, dehydrated and had hundred of wounds covering his body. He was near death as he was bound in spiked chains and forced to beg on the streets by his owner, Mr. Shahid.
Mr. Shahid is liable for prosecution by the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department who has filed a criminal case against him for his illegal act. Instead, in a strange turn of events, Mr. Shahid, who had illegal custody of Raju and subjected him to torture, is trying to get him back through the court in Allahabad.
The Uttar Pradesh Forest Department under the guidance of Mr. Akhilesh Yadav, the Honourable Chief Minister, Government of Uttar Pradesh can prosecute Mr. Shahid and ensure that this gentle elephant, who is being nursed back to health and healing from horrific wounds, is not returned to the person who tortured him for years.
“We are disheartened to learn that we have to fight once again for Raju’s freedom. We sincerely hope the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department and the courts prosecute Mr. Shahid for his illegal act and find him guilty. This will set a precedent across India and will change the way elephants are treated, that abusers will be punished and justice will be served,” explains Kartick Satyanarayan, co-founder of Wildlife SOS.
Wildlife SOS is asking for the public to lend their voice to protect Raju and for punishment for those who treat animals with such cruelty by utilizing social media and/or signing a petition at https://www.change.org/p/shri-akhilesh-yadav-the-honourable-chief-minister-government-of-uttar-pradesh-keep-raju-free Justice needs to prevail for Raju and the many other elephants who are suffering, not just in India, but all over the world.
In another similar case Wildlife SOS is fighting, owners for Laxmi, a female elephant who was rescued in July 2013 from a life of cruelty and neglect, are trying to get her back and return her to a life of torture and chains. Laxmi was immediately sent to live at the Wildlife SOS Elephant Conservation and Care Center in Mathura where she has made significant improvements with her rehabilitation and health. But recovery for these animals is not overnight, especially for the years of abuse they have endured. It takes time, adjustment and trust.
“Laxmi’s case is currently in the hands of Honorable Chief Minister of Maharashtra and the Chief Wildlife Warden who will decide on the elephant’s fate. The owners of Laxmi are absconding and must be arrested and tried for their crimes,” explains Geeta Seshamani, Co- founder of Wildlife SOS.
Currently Laxmi’s petition needs less than 180 more signatures to total 50,000 and can be found at https://www.change.org/p/shri-prithviraj-chavan-prevent-laxmi-from-going-back-to-her-previous-owners