Captive Elephant Welfare Program - Agra
In a world where all the pictures are big this amazing story of the life of one animal encapsulates the essence of compassion and brings to mind the beginnings of this organisation. Over 50 years ago the following story inspired the founders of Humane Society International to leave successful careers and devote their lives to creating a kinder world for animals. The story of the life of one starfish was the catalyst for what has become the largest animal protection organisation in the world today and has resulted in a better world for literally millions of animals.
The Starfish Story
Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.
One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.
As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.
He came closer still and called out ' Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?'
The young man paused, looked up, and replied ' Throwing starfish into the ocean.'
' I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?' asked the somewhat startled wise man.
To this, the young man replied, ' The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don' t throw them in, they' ll die.'
Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, ' But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can' t possibly make a difference!'
At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, ' I made a difference to that one!'
So when Wildlife SOS came to us for help for this one suffering elephant we could not turn them away. And like the starfish the rescue of Champa has now brought new attention to the plight of other elephants in India and resulted in the expansion of the Captive Elephant Welfare Project which will work to ' ˜retire' the elephants that are too old or ill to spend their lives suffering on the hot streets of India.
Through the generosity of HSI supporters a mobile veterinary unit was established a few years ago to monitor the health of all the working elephants of Delhi. This vital service has been visiting the elephants regularly to ensure they get immediate treatment if they are injured or sick, have nourishing food and vitamin supplements and that they have limited working hours.
The vet unit has identified two other elephants they insist must be retired as they have been assessed as not strong enough to continue the daily grind. The land that has been leased for Champa can now provide a safe haven for these two elephants and any future elephants that have been identified as unsuitable for work.
RELIEF FOR THESE GENTLE GIANTS
The Delhi elephant welfare project is a multidisciplinary and sustainable approach to addressing the welfare of captive elephants in the capital of India. Working conditions are very harsh and unfriendly, involving several kilometers of walking on hot tarmac and through crowded streets. Most elephants are a picture of sorrow and apathy due to poor nutrition.
The welfare of these gentle giants is linked to issues of untrained handlers, greedy owners and also a dark nexus of poachers, smugglers and traders which needs to be addressed. This means winning the trust of traditional elephant owners, the poor mahouts depending on this industry for a living, and also enforcing the law to ensure poaching of these gentle giants can be stamped out. This program has been very successful and we need to continue to support it, and expand into other areas of India.
THE SUFFERING IS OVER
These elephant welfare programs run by Wildlife SOS bring real relief from suffering and pain, inflicted upon one of the worlds most majestic and intelligent animals. Help us help them to remain free from the tyranny of human cruelty and to spend the remainder of their lives not only free of pain and suffering, but treated with respect and kindness.
Nothing can ever give them back the 50 years of suffering they have endured but together we can make an enormous difference to their future.
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