New Delhi (NVI): “Emma”, a forty-year-old elephant, force-fed alcohol by her abusive owners to keep her under control, has been rescued by Wildlife SOS and the Jharkhand forest department.
According to a statement released by Wildlife SOS, the pachyderm was made to walk over 300 miles and trafficked illegally across state borders into Jharkhand where the Forest Department charged the owners with violation of wildlife laws and severe neglect.
The Forest Department requested Wildlife SOS to assist with the rescue, transportation and providing the elephant long term medical treatment and care at the Elephant Conservation and Care Center.
Caused by years of severe abuse, Emma elephant suffers from painful and chronic osteoarthritis condition degenerative joints disease, footpads embedded with sharp glass, metal & stone fragments. Decades of malnourishment has deteriorated her health condition and left her fragile, said Wildlife SOS.
There was little respite for this 40-year-old elephant who was regularly used for begging, religious processions, wedding ceremonies, tourist rides and any activity that her owner found to be lucrative. At night, she was tightly restrained, preventing her from lying down and resting. She was fed an unhealthy diet of sweets and fried foods that left her immunity and health severely compromised.
Elephant “EMMA” was regularly force-fed crude country liquor to force her to work despite the pain in her legs. When questioned her owners said they couldn’t afford proper medical treatment! Shockingly, it is not uncommon for captive elephants to be given alcohol and tobacco by their owners as home remedies to combat health problems, said Wildlife SOS, a non-profit charity organisation that works for rescue and relief of animals.
In reality, elephants cannot metabolise alcohol and it is toxic for the animal. Such callousness can also cause inebriation, which could result in the elephant running rampant across a crowded area, endangering the lives of innocent bystanders, it said.
Wildlife SOS was contacted by the Forest Department regarding the medical condition of the elephant with a request that the ailing elephant be shifted to the Wildlife SOS Elephant Hospital in Mathura for urgent medical care.
The Chief Wildlife Wardens of both Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh States issued written permissions to permit the immediate transport of the ailing pachyderm to the Elephant Hospital in Mathura.
On New Year’s Eve, Wildlife SOS dispatched a team of veterinary experts and elephant care staff from the Elephant Hospital travelled over 1000 miles to Dhanbad in Jharkhand in a specially designed elephant ambulance to facilitate the animal’s medical care and transport back to Mathura.
Preliminary examination by Wildlife SOS’ veterinarian revealed that the elephant kept lifting her forelimbs in an abnormal frequency to compensate for the severe pain in her legs caused by years of abuse resulting in degenerative joints disease of the forelimbs.
Dr Ilayaraja, Deputy Director – Veterinary Services, Wildlife SOS, said, “It is extremely painful for the elephant to stand on her delicate and sensitive feet. Years of neglect & abuse has taken a toll on her health. We have extracted glass, metal & stone pieces embedded in her footpads that have caused inflammation in her forelimb.”
Kartick Satyanarayan, Co-founder & CEO of Wildlife SOS said, “We had to act quickly so Emma could get the medical care she so desperately needs. The fact that she was force fed alcohol by her owner shows the immense cruelty and neglect she has faced all these years. We are grateful to Chief Wildlife Wardens of Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh for their support and for entrusting us with her treatment and care.”