Inside India’s first hospital for sick and neglected elephants

Harish Tyagi
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Inside India’s first hospital for sick and neglected elephants

Wildlife SOS is a conservation nonprofit organisation in India working for animal welfare, elephant conservation and care, and has – with the help of Indian state forest departments – rescued elephants living in heartbreaking conditions: from circuses and temples; from being used for street begging; and from highway accidents.

The NGO opened the country’s very first specialised hospital for injured and ailing elephants from all over India in November.

The centre is located in Mathura in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh and runs in a state-of-the-art and well equipped facility that is capable of conducting a variety of laboratory tests, including wireless digital radiology, ultrasound, laser therapy, in-house pathology and even a medical hoist to comfortably lift disabled elephants and move them around the treatment area.

It also has ample storage space for elephantine quantities of lifesaving drugs and veterinary medicines, critical equipment such as portable X-ray and ultrasound devices, and foot-care tools.

Captive elephants can be found all over India, but the exploitation in the name of religion is especially encountered in the southern state of Kerala, as well as in the northern state of Rajasthan and its capital of Jaipur.

Throughout history, elephants have been used for war as far back as 5,000 years ago, as well as for business and travel but nowadays they are used in India mostly at social festivities, religious festivals and processions, and begging at temples.

According to World Animal Protection data, there are more than 3,000 elephants still in captivity in India, used for the tourism and leisure industry, and many of them are in need of proper care and attention.

EPA