- Jul 25, 2011
Suraj spent decades chained in a dank room in a temple in Maharashtra. At some point in his life, one of his ears was torn off. When we found him, he had bull hook wounds on his head and countless other maladies. In short, he was in a desperate state.
But on December 21st, 2015, everything changed for him. After what was likely the most dangerous rescue operation we’ve ever conducted, he was rescued.
We will have more to share about Suraj in the days to come, but for now we thought you would enjoy seeing some photos and details from his rescue operation and his journey to our rescue center.
Suraj still has much healing to do, and we need people to become monthly donors to help support his care.
Will you be one of them?
A contingent of 70 police and forest department officials accompany us. A mob of people is expected to be there to resist this rescue, and so backup is necessary.
Elephant that killed British tourist performed at Thai safari camp tainted by cruelty allegations
Animal welfare campaigners launch fresh bid to ban elephant rides as ‘world’s cruellest wildlife tourist attraction’ after Gareth Crowe trampled and gored
The marauding elephant that trampled and gored a British tourist to death in Thailand after attacking its handler is forced to perform at an island safari camp that has been accused of cruelty to animals by customers.
Animal welfare campaigners have now launched a fresh call for a ban on all tourist elephant rides, saying the practice is cruel to the animals as well as dangerous for holidaymakers.
Gareth Crowe, 36, from Scotland, was killed in front of his 16-year-old step-daughter by an elephant that threw them to the ground after its handler dismounted to take a photograph of them on the holiday island of Koh Samui.
The handler, or mahout, reportedly tried to control the animal with a speared hook and was also gored, but survived.
A video emerged last night from another recent British visitor to the island showing a mahout jabbing an elephant with a similar hook at the main trekking park.
Mr Crowe was killed on Tuesday, the day before a new report released by British campaigners named elephant riding as top of a list of the world’s cruellest wildlife tourist attractions.
The London-based group World Animal Protection conducted the study into wildlife tourism with the University of Oxford’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit.
“It’s clear that thousands of tourists are visiting wildlife attractions, unaware of the abuse wild animals face behind the scenes,” said Kate Nustedt, director of wildlife at World Animal Protection.
“As well as the cruelty to animals, there is also the very real danger to tourists, as we saw earlier this week with the very sad death of Mr Crowe.
“We need to stop the demand for elephant rides and shows, hugs and selfies with tigers and lions by exposing the hidden suffering behind wildlife attractions.
“If you can ride it, hug it or have a selfie with a wild animal, then you can be sure it is cruel. Vote with your feet and don’t go.”
Eilidh Hughes, Mr Crowe’s step-daughter is being treated for injuries in hospital after the accident on a trek organised by the Island Safari Camp.
The camp, one of the island’s largest tourism businesses, emphasises the safety of its customers on its website.
But several customers have posted comments on travel review sites criticising the treatment of its animals and saying they had witnessed wounds inflicted from apparent abuse by their handlers, including the use of the speared hooks.
Samattapong Uttama, assistant managing director of Island Safari, told The Telegraph that the company was investigating the claims of cruelty posted online.
“The mahouts have hooks to control the elephants but they are told not to use the sharp ends,” he said.
“We don’t use the animals to make money but to show tourists about the cultural history of our country and how people used to live here. We do not believe there is cruelty involved in these rides.”
Edwin Wiek, founder of the Wildlife Friends Foundation of Thailand, said that he believed the male elephant that killed Mr Crowe was reacting aggressively as it was in musth, the frenzied state during rutting season.
It was the sixth fatal incident in the last five months involving bull elephants in musth across Thailand, he told the DPA news agency said.
"Male elephants should not be a part of these treks at all as they are uncontrollable when they are in heat," Mr Wiek said.
Thailand has an estimated 4,000 domesticated elephants, many working in the tourism trade, beside some 2,500 wild elephants.
In August, an elephant killed his handler with three terrified Chinese tourists still on his back. The tourists survived.
The elephant riding industry is extremely lucrative in Koh Samui. Local officials and tour operators apparently sought to protect its commercial interests with varying explanations for the animal’s behaviour.
There were initial local media reports that Mr Crowe had teased the animal by appearing to offer it a banana after dismounting to take a photograph. But those were quickly denied by Eilidh in a comment on a local news website.
Then island officials said they suspected that “hot weather made the elephant angry” – a confusing claim as the elephants are native Asian animals and temperatures at the time were about the average 30C.
Mr Samattapong said that the elephant had been tranquillised and brought under control and was now being treated.
[video=youtube;JF5suzNiZR4]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JF5suzNiZR4[/video]It is very hard for Jokia to believe that her best friend, Mae Perm, is gone from her life. After Mae Perm passed away we brought Jokia to walk out from the enclosure because we don't want her to be too stressed inside her shelter . The first steps beyond her door, she rushed to find her friend , and called every minute, searching her trunk to call Mae Perm. She expected as every time prior that when she spoke her low rumble to call Mae Perm, that she will come to hug and comfort her, as every time before ! But now there is only emptiness and no familiar word. I can feel her emptiness. I can see her tears run down with fear and confusion . My heart is so hurt and devastated with deep pain for my girl lost and for the beautiful one left behind, darkness surround. While Mae Perm was here she was the light behind Jokia's eyes, and the will to live. Since Mae Perm passed away, Jokia spends her time looking for the place, the smells, the memories where they walked together all around where they both used to stay together. She sniffs everywhere, and when she finds where Mae Perm has peed, she stops for a long time to observe and then she displays her sorrow and clearly mourns. I Hope time can help to heal her. Currently she spends her days with Navaan and his family but she is uneasy..Yai Bua and the other elder nannies didn't work out..Please pray for Jokia to find a new precious caring friend, someone who can be her eyes and the light for her. If you don't believe about animals having a strong bond and animals having such deep feeling watch this video..
Beggar-elephant rescued after years of efforts
Animal activists call him the "unluckiest elephant" they had known so far and it took over 50 police officers, several foresters and a 20-hour-long operation following years of legal battle to finally rescue Mohan from slavery.
Now free from its influential and politically-backed captors in Pratapgarh district of Uttar Pradesh, after the district court intervened, Mohan -- a 55-year-old male elephant -- is now in Uttar Pradesh forest department's custody.
Mohan along with Raju, another elephant which had been rescued by the animal welfare organisation 'Wildlife SOS' two years back from Allahabad, was caught as a calf and sold at Sonepur Cattle Fair, Bihar.
"Both Raju and Mohan were used as begging elephants. They were placed outside a temple or roadside, and people would throw money for receiving blessings from the elephant, through a gentle tap by its trunk on the customer's head," Suvidha Bhatnagar from Wildlife SOS told IANS on Sunday.
"We wanted to rescue them both together, but the legal battle in case of Mohan took too long," she added.
The medical report of the elephant says that he is very thin and 'emaciated' due to severe starvation.
"There were multiple wounds on his body and ears, due to beating and poking by sharp objects. The feet injuries would lead to permanent joint disorders if not properly treated immediately. The elephant's dung had a lot of round worms and indicated severe worm infestation," the report said.
The rescue operation, assisted by Wildlife SOS, also faced resistance from the supporters of the captors and they damaged one vehicle.
The mahout of Mohan has been arrested, while two other captors are on run, official told IANS.
"Mohan was transferred to custody of forest department in Pratapgarh where he will be provided medical care for the time being," said Y.P. Shukla, Prataphgarh District Forest Officer.
On July 12, the District Court in Pratapgarh ordered police to file an FIR against the three captors holding the elephant in illegal custody and seize the animal within three days. However, Mohan could be rescued only nine days later due to local political pressure.
"The elephant was in such a location where vehicles cannot reach. The nearest road was about five km away," Adarsh Singh, District Magistrate of Pratapgarh told IANS. He, however, denied any political pressure against the rescue.
Wildlife SOS and the forest department of Uttar Pradesh had earlier made several attempts to secure Mohan's rescue. However, the attempts failed as the legal proceedings were postponed and delayed repeatedly.
"Hope this breakthrough in attaining Mohan's long overdue freedom would initiate zero tolerance for illegal ownership of elephants in country, where they are we pray to them in the form of Ganesha but also torture them. I hope that this rescue would give hope for elephants across the country which are held illegally," Kartick Satyanarayan, co-founder of Wildlife SOS, told IANS.
Saving India´s Elephants Meet the Founders of Wildlife SOS
Please join Kartick Satyanarayan and Geeta Seshamani, the founders of Wildlife SOS, for a free lecture on their work to save India's elephants. The 1-hour presentation will highlight many of their elephant rescue stories, including those of Raju and Mohan. You won't want to miss this rare opportunity to meet Kartick and Geet in person in Southern California!
There will be a live Q&A session after the presentation as well as vegan snacks. Crafts from India will be available for sale.
The event is in the Community Meeting Room at the Library. Parking is free with validation ($3/hour without).
We hope to see you there!