“...we are eager to get started, and we can’t wait for the day when we can announce that the last circus elephant in the country has been taken into a rescue center."
New Delhi, India (PRWEB) November 25, 2014
After eradicating the brutal, centuries-old practice of dancing bears in India, Wildlife SOS is now ready to take the first steps toward rescuing all of the remaining 67 circus elephants in India, in partnership with the Government.
In the first phase of this campaign, Wildlife SOS plans to facilitate the rescue of 17 elephants. The estimated cost of the first phase is $1.876 million, which would allow the organization to help rescue these elephants from circuses and move them to elephant rehabilitation centers. This amount will cover investigations, legal costs, the rescue process, transport after rescue, and getting the elephants settled in their new homes. It will not cover ongoing care. Wildlife SOS is launching a fundraising campaign to raise funds for the first phase of the circus elephant project.
One of the circus elephants in need of immediate and urgent rescue is a female named Suzy (name changed to protect her identity).
“We have placed Suzy at the top of our priority list for rescue, and hope to bring her to our elephant care center in the near future,” said Geeta Seshamani, co-founder of Wildlife SOS. “And with the help of caring people around the world, and the cooperation of the Government, she will be just one of more than a dozen elephants we will be able to rescue from the sad circus life in 2015.”
Suzy is blind and is suffering from very poor health. Confused and lost, she is forced to stand in her own dung and urine for days. She remains chained all the time except when she is forced to perform tricks. Suzy’s mental and physical health status is very poor due to a complete lack of veterinary care, no regular exercise, no enrichment, and an unbalanced diet with poor nutrition.
“As you can imagine, rescuing 67 elephants is an enormous undertaking,” said Kate Schnepel of Wildlife SOS USA, “but we are eager to get started, and we can’t wait for the day when we can announce that the last circus elephant in the country has been taken into a rescue center.”
INITIATIVES TAKEN BY THE INDIAN GOVERNMENT TO HELP ELEPHANTS
- Project Elephant, a multi-faceted project designed to help elephants both wild and captive, was launched in 1992 by the Government of India. This is a major step for protecting Asian elephants in India and a role model for other countries to follow.
- Project Elephant, under the leadership of the Honourable Minister of Environment and Forests - Mr Prakash Javadekarhas, facilitated the creation of the first elephant rehabilitation center in Haryana in collaboration with Wildlife SOS and the Haryana Forest Department. This facility currently houses three rescued elephants with a capacity to house up to 50 elephants.
- The Government of India banned the use of wild animals like tigers, bears, leopards, lions and monkeys in circuses in 1998. Elephants have recently joined this list.
- Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has issued show cause notices to circuses found lacking in animal welfare. Severe lack of welfare for elephants has been documented.
LIFE OF ELEPHANTS IN INDIA’S CIRCUSES
- Despite the ban on elephant performances in circuses, elephants continue to suffer in Indian circuses, where they are forced to perform illegally.
- Elephants are often kept shackled by all four legs, even when they aren’t performing. Elephants are confined to cramped and unhygienic spaces in which they defecate, urinate, eat, drink, and sleep — all in the same place.
- Their access to fresh drinking water, food and veterinary care is severely restricted.
- Undercover videos have shown that elephants are beaten with sharp hooks and shocked with electric prods during training and performances.
WILDLIFE SOS EFFORTS TO PROTECT ELEPHANTS IN INDIA
- In July 2014, Wildlife SOS received worldwide recognition for rescuing Raju, a working elephant who had been severely mistreated and kept in spiked chains for 50 years.
- Wildlife SOS has rescued and rehabilitated 12 elephants from all over India. Several of the rescued elephants were used in circuses as well as other capacities.
- Wildlife SOS established India’s first modern elephant care center, which does not use ankush (bullhooks), spiked chains or any cruel management practices to control elephants.
- The objective of the Wildlife SOS Elephant Conservation and Welfare Project is to protect elephants by creating awareness about the plight of elephants in India. This project advocates use of modern and cruelty free methods of elephant management and training.
A nonprofit organization, Wildlife SOS is one of the largest rescue and conservation charities in South Asia. They operate ten wildlife rehabilitation facilities across India, including the world's largest sloth bear rescue center and the recently established, chain-free Elephant Conservation and Care Center, which is the first in India and currently houses seven rescued elephants. Wildlife SOS runs a tribal rehabilitation project that aims to create an alternative livelihood for poachers and other indigenous communities that used to depend on wildlife for a livelihood. Additionally, they run a leopard rescue center, a wildlife hotline in New Delhi and 'Forest Watch' which is an anti-poaching wildlife crime enforcement unit.