Trunk Tales: Marvellous Macadamia’s Momentous Journey!

November 24, 2023 | By Tushti Sharma
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In April of 2015, Wildlife SOS received the news about four elephants who were suffering in a circus in Maharashtra. Mercilessly made to perform in front of large audiences, they were far away from life in a jungle. Our team rescued the four pachyderms from agony and torture, and brought them to the Elephant Conservation and Care Centre (ECCC) in Mathura. Named Peanut, Coconut, Walnut and Macadamia, the quartet is famously known as the “Nut Herd” at the centre. This month, we focus on the story of the eldest member of this herd, Macadamia, fondly called Mac.  

Mac is the eldest of four elephants that were rescued from a circus in Maharashtra. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/ Mradul Pathak] 

Mac, now entering his 30s, is no stranger to the centre or the caregivers present here. However, a traumatic past of performing unnatural tricks led this bull elephant to display stereotypic behaviour when he first arrived at the centre. He was aggressive and agitated, and would bob his head incessantly for long periods of time.

With patience and constant attention given to him, Mac gradually gained confidence in the heartwarming gestures of his caregiver and the medical team present. The chaos of a circus arena had finally been replaced by the tranquillity of nature and dedicated care. Over time, Mac began to reflect his peaceful environment, and is lauded for being an extremely calm elephant. 

Mac’s caregiver provides him with abundant seasonal fodder to snack on all through the day. [Wildlife SOS/ Suryoday Singh Mann] 

Each morning, he is kindly woken up by his caregiver, with whom he has formed a strong and steady bond. The caregiver ensures that Mac is fed well before he heads out for the first walk of the day. Male elephants undergo a natural and healthy periodic condition called musth, during which they display behavioural change. Since Mac is in musth currently, he walks inside his field and is offered fresh vegetables and fruits such as papayas, watermelons, beetroots, cauliflowers, pumpkins and bananas. 

Another commonality among bull elephants is that they tend to remain solitary. Mac has always found it preferable to go for his walks accompanied only by his caregiver. At the ECCC, the caregivers construct structural and food-based enrichments to keep the resident elephants highly preoccupied. Despite being solitary and shy, Mac indulges with the tyre hanging, cage feeders and wooden logs that are present in his field. Of these, the enrichment that keeps Mac most entertained is the tyre hanging. He can be seen playfully tossing and flinging it all around! He spends a great amount of time extracting the fodder that is present within his cage feeder. Enrichments like these also ensure that resident pachyderms remain physically active. 

Mac expresses his delight each time he plays with tyre hangings and munches on fodder from his cage feeders. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/ Mradul Pathak] 

Mac looks forward to entering the pool, especially during summers, and he fully submerges himself as a way to cool his body down. The buoyancy of the water also allows Mac to relax and experience great relief as it lifts some of the body weight off his feet.

Mac experiences therapeutic relief on his limbs each time he relaxes in the pool present in his enclosure. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/ Suryoday Singh Mann]

Mac is still undergoing treatment for the persistent abscess he has on his left tusk sulcus. Chronic abscesses can be extremely painful. And to help him recover, our dedicated team of veterinary staff clean the sulcus with normal saline water, after which an ointment is gently applied along with an antiseptic. During this time, Mac cooperates well with the medical team due to the target training sessions that are conducted with him daily. His caregiver stocks up Mac’s most loved food items as rewards for each time he responds to the vet desirably. Tasty treats along with warm conduct always motivates Mac to rest assured of this process!

In the month of May 2023, the “Nut Herd” completed eight wonderful years of freedom with Wildlife SOS! In all these years, Mac has lit up the centre with his brilliant intelligence and majestic might. 

Saved from a life of apathy, torture and cruelty, Mac is now fortunately being given special attention for his wellbeing. If you wish to support Mac’s daily care, you can sponsor the elephant by clicking here.

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