10.04.2019, Mathura, (SOS): In a generous act of kindness and compassion, legendary Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan supported the efforts of Wildlife SOS in bringing Kalpana, a begging elephant, to the Wildlife SOS Elephant Hospital in Mathura for treatment and care. Bachchan’s Facebook post about the arrival of the blind and lame elephant at the Wildlife SOS Elephant Hospital for treatment awakened thousands of people around the world to the plight of captive elephants in India.
Kalpana’s story is representative of the life of nearly 2,500 elephants in India, who live a horrific life in captivity in circuses, temples and at the mercy of people who use them to beg on the streets, for weddings or give joy rides to tourists. These elephants are mostly blind, lame, live in isolation and suffer extreme stress and abuse. They are trained using spears, spiked chains & bullhooks that instil severe pain and fear to break the animal’s spirit. To ensure an elephant can give tourists rides, they are beaten almost every day.
Kalpana elephant was a victim of this cruel commercial exploitation and has been suffering for nearly four decades before Wildlife SOS learnt about her situation. Like hundreds of elephants who suffer every day at Amer Fort in Jaipur and other locations where they are forced to give tourists rides, Kalpana suffered new bouts of cruelty with every change of hands, when she would be sold to a new owner. Life for her was a long continuous nightmare, from which she had no respite in sight.
Mr. Bachchan has been a long-time supporter of Wildlife SOS and is a strong advocate for elephant protection and conservation in India. He has especially been vocal about his support for 40-year-old ailing Kalpana; by sharing posts about her on his social media platforms. This helps create valuable awareness about the plight of elephants in India that Wildlife SOS is working to bring to the public domain through the resource website REFUSETORIDE.ORG.
Amitabh Bachchan reposted a Facebook post by Wildlife SOS, expressing the following, “Worked towards saving another elephant in dire state .. there is a great joy and satisfaction in giving them the joys and benefits of a normal living.”
At the Wildlife SOS Elephant Hospital, Mathura, the new arrival ‘Kalpana’ will have the comfort of a soft mud and straw bed, and a dedicated team of experienced elephant vets and care staff who will subject her to X-rays and other tests to assess her health status. Following this, the Wildlife SOS veterinary team will develop an intensive treatment plan for her.
Established in 1995 as a non-profit charitable organization, Wildlife SOS and its founders Kartick Satyanarayan and Geeta Seshamani successfully ended the exploitation of sloth bears across India and rescuing over 628 ‘dancing’ bears from nomadic communities. This was done in partnership with Forest Department and while also helping them with sustainable alternative livelihoods, education for children and empowerment of women in these communities making it one of the world’s most successful conservation success solutions achieved through sustainable options.
Wildlife SOS is currently focused on the rescue and rehabilitation of elephants. In 2010, Wildlife SOS established an elephant camp in Mathura in collaboration with the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department. The facility known as the Elephant Conservation and Care Centre (ECCC) in Mathura is currently providing medical treatment for over 20 elephants. The facility is in close proximity to India’s first Elephant Hospital which is equipped with state-of-art veterinary facilities.
Kartick Satyanarayan, Co-founder & CEO Wildlife SOS, said “We are extremely grateful to Mr. Amitabh Bachchan for extending his support to Wildlife SOS’s efforts to bringing Kalpana, an ailing begging elephant, for treatment at our Elephant Hospital. He can bring public attention to the plight of elephants. We hope to seek his support for the refuse to ride campaign to protect elephants in India.”
Geeta Seshamani, Co-founder & Secretary of Wildlife SOS, said “It gives me great joy to see Mr. Bachchan support our efforts to save elephants. At Wildlife SOS, we try our best to give the elephants a life of freedom, health and companionship, and a chance to be elephants again. India is the last strong hold for the Asian elephant population where 50% of the remaining populations occur and it is critically important to conserve and protect this majestic species.”
Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) are India’s heritage animal and also endangered and protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. India currently has a population of about 22,000 to 25,000 elephants in the wild. Ten decades ago the elephant population was 1 million indicating a loss of 98% of the wild population.
Wildlife SOS (WSOS) is a non-profit charity established in 1995 with the primary objective of rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife in distress across India. We actively run wildlife and nature protection projects to promote conservation, combat poaching & illegal wildlife trade. We work in partnership with the Government and indigenous communities to create sustainable, alternative livelihoods for erstwhile poacher communities.