Features Thursday, September 04, 2014 - 05:30
The News Minute | September 3, 2014 | 08:45 am IST In July this year, Raju, the elephant, was freed from over 50 years of captivity. When released from the spiked shackles that tore into his flesh, Raju cried tears of relief and liberation.  Read: Love, sympathy and hope pours in for Raju the elephant on Facebook ( Raju before he was rescued by Wildlife SOS ) Wildlife SOS, an NGO that works towards the protection of wildlife, rescued Raju from the torture in Uttar Pradesh. He now lives in Wildlife SOS's Elephant Conservation and Care Center in Agra, with a group of other elephants, where he being administered proper care and his wounds are being tended to. Read: Raju the elephant is finally getting what he deserves, love and care ( Raju, after being freed, at Wildlife SOS ) However, Raju's future still lies in jeopardy since his former owner has launched a legal battle claiming that the majestic beast is his property.  Charity Wildlife SOS founder Kartick Satyanarayan, who led the rescue operation to save Raju, said: “ We are devastated that after all he’s been through we are still having to fight for Raju’s freedom. His owner is arguing that Raju is his property, which must be returned to him for his use". “We are hoping the courts will see sense that this can never happen as Raju was treated with such appalling cruelty and torture in his hands in the first place and the man claiming ownership of Raju has no legal grounds to claim him back under Indian law" “ The thought of him being forced to go back to a life in chains is just horrific. We are starting a Raju Legal fund that will help us fight such legal battles to protect Raju and elephants like him that suffer in silence. One of Raju’s friends Laxmi Elephant who was rescued by Wildlife SOS from Mumbai suffers a similar fate where her previous owner is claiming her back as property." Wildlife SOS is planning to fight for Raju till the very end, and will try their best to ensure that Raju does not go back to his former owner.  ( Raju having a fun time in a pool at Wildlife SOS ) The first court hearing of the case will take place in Allahabad on September 4.  Kartick also said: “He'd (Raju) been poached as a calf from the wild; Poachers either slaughter the mother, or they drive the herd into traps that are small enough only for the babies to fall into. The mother cries for her baby for days after he's been stolen – the illegal elephant trade is sickening. The calves are then tied and beaten until they submit to their captors – their spirits are effectively broken". It is believed that Raju had been sold again and again and might have had 27 owners.  ( All images courtesy: Wildlife SOS ) To donate to Raju's Appeal see www.wildlifesos.org

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