The story of Raju the elephant is truly miraculous. After enduring 50 years in spiked chains acting as a “beggar’s prop,” Raju has finally been freed thanks to the work of Wildlife SOS, 20 Indian Forestry Commissioners, police force, and a team of veterinarians.
Little is known about Raju’s early life but it is believed that he was captured from the wild as an infant and forced into work, it is estimated he has been passed between 27 different captors throughout his life.
At the time of his rescue, Raju was serving as a begging elephant in Allahbad, India, spending long days on the streets with his mahout who asked passersby for money in exchange for a blessing from Raju. The little food he was given was hardly acceptable for an elephant, some reports say he was frequently given plastic and paper scraps.
When Wildlife SOS finally received permission to transport Raju to their sanctuary, the mahouts holding Raju captive made his rescue all the more difficult. The Wildlife SOS report of his rescue explains that his captors organized to have people block the road to prevent rescue trucks from getting through, they also inundated Raju with chains and spikes to make it all the more difficult to release him.
It is said that tears of joy streamed down Raju’s face as he realized that he was finally going to be freed from this life of sheer pain and abuse. Wildlife SOS explains it took several hours of coaxing and feeding Raju fruit to gain the 50+ year old elephant’s trust, but once this was accomplished he was safely loaded into a truck for transport back to the Wildlife SOS sanctuary.
Raju’s journey to recovery is now on it’s way. His leg wounds are being properly treated and he is finally being given the love he deserves–that, and an entire truck filled with fruit for him to feast on to his heart’s desire!
Fifty years is longer than any living creature should have to wait for freedom, but we are all thankful to Raju’s kind rescuers and look forward to watching his recovery.
Lead image source: Wildlife SOS