We are often asked the question of why it costs so much to rescue an elephant. The above before and after photo of Bhola is a good visual of the difference we can make when we do it right. In order to provide the proper rehabilitation, it takes a signficant financial investment. There are other organizations that ‘rescue’ elephants and keep the elephants on chains for a big portion of their lives. We do not.
In this blog we try to lay out some of the costs involved in rescuing and then caring for an elephant. Unfortunately, it is very expensive to rescue and provide lifetime care. It is even more costly for us because we have aimed to be a chainfree center, making us the only one in India. Chainfree means we have had to invest in more infrastructure, staff training, veterinary care, foot care and provide a variety of enrichments and stimulation for our rescued elephants.
The rescue of an elephant first usually involves transporting him from where he is to one of our Elephant Care Centers. Sometimes, after an elephant has been hit by a truck, a crane needs to be used to lift the elephant to his feet. The cost of getting an elephant from point A to point B over hundreds of kilometers can cost as much as $10,000.
If possible, the elephant’s shelter and exercise yard need to be preconstructed. Many elephants are rescued from places where they have no shelter. The fencing needs to be strong and adequate. Flooring needs to be proper for elephants feet. The cost of building a shelter for an elephant can run up to $60,000 depending on the materials used, size of the yard and whether or not a pool is provided.
Once at the center, most of the elephants have been traumatized and are in need of medical attention. Many come with painful feet, abscesses and scars. The cost of medicines and veterinary treatment can run in the thousands in just the first few weeks.
Elephants like a variety of foods. We try and provide them with a variety of fruits and vegetables that they absolutely love. Feeding an elephant for one month costs a minimum of $1000.
Each elephant has a few mahouts that work almost excusively with that elephant. Each time we rescue an elephant we need to recruit and train new staff to provide proper care of the elephant. New staff for a year costs us thousands of dollars.
These are just a few of the costs we incur. In order for us to rescue and care for an elephant for one year, it can cost us as much as $100,000. Unfortunately, providing freedom to elephants is not free. This is why we depend on our supporters to donate what they can to help these elephants. Without you, we wouldn’t be able to free any elephants.