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There is nothing we love more than the story of a captive animal finally gaining their freedom, so this story from Wildlife SOS has got us smiling ear to ear! After 55 years in chains, held illegally, a starving and downtrodden elephant named Mohan is steps closer to sweet, sweet freedom!

Wildlife SOS has been working tirelessly for over a year to secure Mohan’s rescue from his current keepers. In 2015, the organization attempted to rescue the elderly elephant but was met by a mob of over 300 people who prevented the team from saving Mohan. After this rescue attempt, Mohan’s keeper who had been keeping the elephant illegally filed a revision to the local government to gain custody of Mohan, which lead to an extended legal battle. There were three pending cases involving Mohan in the court system and in order for either Wildlife SOS or his previous owner to gain custody of Mohan, all cases had to be settled – leading to a very lengthy process. All the while Mohan’s owner was stalling in court, this poor elephant was left to languish in his abject misery.

Thankfully, the District Court in Pratapgarh finally issued an order to the police to immediately file a motion against the people holding the elephant in illegal custody, allowing authorities to seize the elephant within three days. While this was an incredible development, it did not guarantee the easy release of Mohan.

According to Wildlife SOS, “The rescue operation lasted over 20 hours and faced stiff resistance from anti-social elements in the area, intent on sabotaging the rescue attempt. The presence of a large police force helped maintain safety of the rescue team,” however, “The unruly mob damaged one vehicle.”

Mohan was transferred into the care of the Forest Department of Pratapgarh and given a medical exam. Sadly, the exam yielded some rather sad news for Mohan. Wildlife SOS explains, “The medical report dated 23 July 2016 confirms the elephant is thin and emaciated caused by severe starvation. It also mentions that wounds on his body and ears confirm beating and poking by sharp objects, as well as feet injuries that 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.”

It looks as if Mohan has a long road to recovery ahead of him, but after knowing nothing but life as a working elephant for 55 years, we are positive that he is finally breathing a much-deserved sigh of relief! He has not been released to the Wildlife SOS sanctuary yet, as there are still a few legal proceedings that need to be carried out before his complete freedom is obtained, but will hopefully join their herd of rescued elephants soon!


While this is certainly progress for Mohan, there are still countless other elephants forced to live this sort of abusive life across India and the rest of the world. We can all play a part in ending this suffering by refusing to pay for elephant rides or tourist attractions that involve captive elephants. These attractions may seem innocent on the surface, but there is a huge amount of cruelty behind the scenes.

To learn more about Wildlife SOS and the amazing work they do, click here.

All image source: Wildlife SOS