Raju’s Journey to Freedom- A Photo Journal

July 5, 2014 | By dw
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We don’t have a lot of information about Raju’s earlier life.  We believe he was probably born in the wild almost 50 years ago and when he was just a baby, caught and sent to live his life as a working elephant.  He has spent almost 50 years in chains and most likely would have died never known freedom.  However, on July 4th, Raju took his first steps as a ‘free’ elephant because of your support.  Below is a photojournal of his journey to freedom.
Raju had been working as a begging elephant in Allahabad.  People would give the mahout tips in exchange for ‘blessings’ by Raju.  Most of the food he got was inappropriate for an elephant.  However, half starving, Raju would eat almost anything.

Raju was chained with spike chains that made walking and movement very painful and left him with chronic wounds around his legs.

Raju’s life of 50 years begging all day in the hot heat with very little to eat was taking a terrible toll on him.  He appeared to us to be exhausted and worn down.  We worked with the U.P. Forest Department to get the permissions to have him transferred to Wildlife SOS and we asked you to help us rescue him.

His rescue mission began on the night of July 2.  His mahout and previous owner were non-cooperative and made things very difficult to rescue Raju.  They put more chains on him and pulled the spikes tighter and then had people blocking the roads leading to the rescue truck.

After Raju had been traumatized by his owners, we worked hard to gain his trust.  After several hours of giving Raju fruits and encouragement, he was able to get loaded onto the truck.

Raju gets closer to home.

Dr. Yaduraj, the veterinarian rides on top of the truck to keep an eye on Raju.

Dr. Yaduraj works to remove his spiked chains.

Now that Raju is free, the process of ‘healing’ him begins.  Here he takes a walk chain free holding a few bananas for a snack.

Here he gobbles jackfruit.  We literally bought a truck load of the fruit for him 🙂

His body is covered in abscesses and wounds from beatings he received and from the chains.  Treatment begins to heal these wounds.

Raju rejoices in having a cold shower!

More then anything… now is a time for Raju to just rest… after 50 years, he deserves it.

Thank you from Raju!

Our wish list… if you know anybody who can help with these items, we would love to hear from you.

1 generator:  Currently it takes us 18 hours to fill the pool because our generator does not work.  A generator would benefit all of our elephants

1 small tractor:  We create dirt mounds for our elephants that have a difficult time getting up and down and it is more comfortable for the elephants to lay on mounds of dirt… especially our skinny ones like Raju.  If we had a small tractor it would be much easier to create these dirt mounds that are critical for their comfort.

You can always donate to help Raju at www.wildlifesos.org/donate   🙂

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