Karma was one of the 4,000 elephants that live in captivity in India. Many of them suffer in the living conditions and a percentage of them die prematurely because of exhaustion and infections.
It has been found that the life expectancy of elephants in captivity has dropped from 70-75 years to below 40. Common causes of death are falls from trucks that transfer them from place to place, infections related to their diet and exposure to heat and sun.
According to Suparna Ganguly, president of the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre, their keepers and managers are largely ignorant and this leads elephants to their death due to unnatural conditions.
“Most of these deaths are due to torture, abuse, overwork or faulty management practices,” she says.
The fact that these elephants are kept in sheds full of concrete, causes “their feet develop abscesses and thinning pads, sometimes leading to severe infection”. Also, there are problems with their diet. While in the wild they eat more than 100 different roots, in captivity they are obliged to eat glucose-rich dried sugarcane fodder for their whole life, which causes intestine infections and can even lead to death.
Where are these animals used?
They are used in processions and temple rituals, they are used to carry tourists around the streets or even in political parties’ campaigns. This exhausts them and more and more, until they have a serious accident, usually during their transfer to what they call “rejuvenation camps”, and die in pain shortly after.
All the above sounds terrible, right? Now, imagine a blind elephant having to go through all this, relying on its keeper’s guidance all the time. Can you even guess how difficult it must be for a blind elephant to walk the busy streets with tourists riding it?
Karma had to spend the first 46 years of her life in captivity. She’s blind and she was used as a prop to beg for money, or carry heavy loads on the busy Indian streets. All this until she was finally set free this January.
Wildlife SOS finally set Karma free and took her to the Elephant Care and Conservation Centre in northern India. There she will certainly enjoy the rest of her life- or at least her caretakers will try to help her live a happy life.
In the clip that follows, we can see Karma stepping off the ambulance that took her to the elephant hospital, where she would be comprehensively examined by vets and taken care of by the staff. A few weeks later, her feet started to heal by walking on a proper terrain, and the hospital staff managed to make her feel more relaxed and happy.
The sanctuary also started a fundraiser earlier this year, hoping to raise enough money for the needs of Karma and they managed to raise a few hundred dollars.
Now, Karma is confidently walking towards healing, both physically and psychologically, and we’re sure all the people around her are doing their best to help her.
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