Features Thursday, July 02, 2015 - 05:30
  In July last year, the photographs of a crying elephant after its rescue from 50 years of captivity gained international attention. Love and sympathy poured in from across the world for Raju the elephant. This year, Wildlife SOS, the NGO that rescued him, is celebrating the one-year anniversary of his freedom. To mark the occasion, 250 customised Tibetan Prayer flags will be flown in Raju’s enclosure and an elephant walking path will be christened "Raju’s Freedom Trail".       Raju also got to treat on a 36-inch cake, filled with delicious fruits, which had been baked specially for him. There was also a massive anniversary card which was five feet high and 8 feet wide made by Raju's loving team at Wildlife SOS.     "Raju’s new found freedom has granted him a life with a comfortable place to sleep, plentiful amounts of food, a pool for fun and relaxation and dedicated mahouts who care for him 24-hours a day. Raju has also formed new friendships among The Herd of Hope especially with “the munchkin” female elephants Laxmi, Bijli and Chanchal,” said Geeta Seshamani, Co-founder of Wildlife SOS.   Raju with the girls According to wildlife SOS, there are approximately 3,000 elephants that are chained and abused every day in India. Many of these elephants are stolen from their mothers as babies and then, once beaten into submission, are exploited as begging elephants or temple elephants.     From the past: Pictures of Raju being made to beg and being beaten   "While Raju’s life is vastly improved, his horrific start at life plagues him daily. He continues to be very wary of people and suffers from several chronic injuries that went untreated for many years. We hope his story serves to remind people of how many asian elephants suffer in captivity. With Asian elephant numbers in the wild dwindling caused by the demand for captive elephants in India and other countries, we all need to take action now in order to save these animals. There is no time to lose."- Kartick Satyanarayan, Co-Founder, Wildlife SOS India.   The picture, of Raju crying after being rescued, that had gone viral. When Raju was released from the spiked shackles that tore into his flesh, he had cried tears of relief and liberation. It is believed that Raju had been sold again and again and might have had 27 owners. Donate to Raju’s Rescue Fund by visiting http://wildlifesos.org/donate-2/. All funds will be used to help rescue and care for abused elephants in India. For more information about Raju and Wildlife SOS’ visit WildlifeSOS.org   
Become a TNM Member for just Rs 999!
You can also support us with a one-time payment.