Chanchal’s Rescueversary: A Decade At Wildlife SOS!

June 30, 2022 | By Malavika Jayachandran
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Today, Chanchal’s journey with us crosses the ten-year mark, as she happily celebrates her 10th rescueversary with us! Chanchal has been with Wildlife SOS through thick and thin, and she has seen the Elephant Conservation and Care Centre grow, and welcomed various new elephants to the Wildlife SOS family. This traumatized elephant suffered from various injuries to her body, including a major one on her hind limb, making us wonder if she would ever walk again. But now, she dashes across her enclosure with joy when she sees food! She goes on regular walks with her trusty companions, Bijli and Laxmi, and has made splendid progress since the day of her arrival.

Chanchal’s ears are torn due to bullhook abuse. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

Looking at Chanchal, one can see that she has suffered a lot in her past – the abnormality of her gait and her torn ears, all from brutal beatings by a bullhook. Despite the scars riddled all over her body, she carries herself proudly, because she is a survivor. Chanchal was a victim of a highway collision with a truck in Noida which left her with multiple injuries all across her body. This accident left Chanchal with a diffused hind limb, a significant injury that still causes her immense pain, and makes a simple task like walking extremely hard for her. On colder days, the pain in her legs worsen, but under the constant care of our veterinary team, she has been able to regain much of her strength. She finds it relaxing for limbs when she spends some time splashing around in her pool. 

Chanchal, Bijli and Laxmi go on walks together.
Chanchal, Bijli and Laxmi go on walks together. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Shirina Sawhney]

Of course, Chanchal doesn’t enjoy pool time just to ease her aches; she’s got some mischievous tricks up her trunk too! As soon as she sees Bijli making a beeline for the pool, Chanchal pretends to fall asleep near the pool’s stairway, making it impossible for Bijli to enter! The other elephant tries to nudge Chanchal with her trunk, but Chanchal simply refuses to let up.

The three have been steady friends since they were introduced to each other. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

The tricks continue with Chanchal finishing off every last bit of Bijli’s pipe feeder treats. Bijli is slower to eat her food and use up her enrichments, and Chanchal waits for her to be distracted, even for a moment, before sneaking her trunk into Bijli’s feeder and getting away with a successful heist! Of course, she knows she cannot play such a trick on Laxmi, who is known to be the foodie of the group. Laxmi would raise a trumpet alarm if she caught Chanchal snooping into her goodies! 

Despite being the one with the limb injury, Chanchal is the one who leads the trio on walks, with Laxmi following suit, and Bijli at the back. She is alert to her surroundings and protective of her companions – she rumbles if Bijli gets distracted by some foliage or even a squirrel that makes her wander off the path. Bijli immediately gets back on track with the others!

Chanchal often plays pranks on the gullible Bijli. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

Chanchal showed very strong signs of stereotypic behaviour like head-bobbing and pacing, immediately upon her arrival at Wildlife SOS. This was a sure sign of the stressful conditions that she had been living in. Under the careful supervision of the veterinary team and the elephant caregiver, Chanchal’s stereotypic behaviour gradually decreased. This stereotypic behaviour that she used to showcase speaks of how the abuse that goes into training elephants for commercial purposes stays with them for the rest of their life. Elephants and other wild animals should never be kept in captive conditions in the first place. The trauma of their past stays with them forever, and all we can do is to provide them with the right medical care, nutrition and support to help them progress. 

The elephant caregivers set up a feast while the trio splashed around in the river!
The elephant caregivers set up a feast while the trio splashed around in the river! [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

As part of her rescueversary celebrations, Chanchal, Bijli and Laxmi enjoyed a dip in the cool waters of river Yamuna. While the three were splashing around and playfully spraying water over each other, the elephant caregivers set up a feast for them on the riverside. This ginormous feast consisted of a spread of green fodder, bamboo, papayas, bananas and watermelons! The caregivers also carefully built an enrichment in the shape of the number “10” to mark Chanchal’s ten years at Wildlife SOS! It was crafted carefully and lovingly with bamboo, fodder and bananas; taking time and patience even though the caregivers knew that Chanchal would demolish and eat it within a millisecond! The love and patience that the caregivers have for Chanchal is never-ending, and they wish to provide her with more happiness and comfort every day!

Chanchal has completed ten years at Wildlife SOS! [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

Though we may do our best to care for these elephants, it is undeniable that the ideal life for every elephant is amidst the forest, in the sanctuary of their herd. In an ideal world, Chanchal, Laxmi and Bijli would have never been exploited by humans and would be able to live in the wild with their families.

If you wish to support our endeavour to prevent elephants from exploitation, you can sign our Refuse To Ride petition

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