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Till date, almost 27 people have owned Raju before Pooja Binepal of Wildlife SOS-UK came to rescue it with a strong team of 10 vets and wildlife experts from the charity, working from Palmers Green, North London. They were also assisted by 20 Forestry Commission officers and two policemen on July 3, 2014.
Wildlife SOS founder Kartick Satyanarayan kept an eye out for two days before rescuing so that no sudden movement alerts the current owner of Raju who had it captured in spikes.
It was almost a year since Uttar Pradesh Forest Department was contacting the London-based agency to do something about the cruelty been done to the elephant.Image courtesy Wildlife SOS
The elephant was kept in a pathetic state and was treated as a slave to do all the work from dawn until dusk. He wasn't fed properly and out of hunger and exhaustion, he even ate plastic and paper.Image courtesy Wildlife SOS
While the team was rescuing, it was observed that the chains Raju was tied to were cutting into its flesh. Every time it moved a leg, pus would secrete and was suffering from abscesses and wounds excessively.
He finally was set on an open truck for transfer to Elephant Conservation and Care Centre at Mathura.
Dedicated Forest officers who accompanied Wildlife SOS team to save Raju.
Charity’s head wildlife vet Dr Yaduraj Khadpekar who tried to unshackle the elephant said, "He began to shout commands to terrify Raju and try to provoke him. It created an incredibly dangerous situation because a bull elephant can snap a human like a toothpick if he becomes afraid or angry."
After reaching Mathura, Raju felt like home but when it was still there and people were trying to rescue. It cried after resisting. Elephants are considered highly intelligent but after the torture of so many years, it took some time to understand that a rescue was taking place.
With emergency medical attention, Raju was kept in isolation for a week and then left with two other elephant companions - Rajesh and Bhola.
It took 45 minutes to rescue and the first meal Raju had was of bananas, banana leaves, mangoes, some bread and biscuits, and water.
Kartick who was involved in the entire elephant's rescue said "We all had tears in our eyes as the rope which held the final spike was cut and Raju took his first steps of freedom. The team was exhausted but elated. Raju suffered unthinkable abuse and trauma for so long. His (Raju's) spirit was broken."Image courtesy Wildlife SOS
Raju celebrated its 51st birthday on July 4, 2015, which also was the same date when the rescue took place at midnight.
"Raju came in with many abscesses and over a hundred injuries and wounds from the years of abuse he endured. He also had one shoulder wound that took nearly a full year to heal. Raju was extremely thin and malnourished at the time of rescue." told Geeta Seshamani, co-founder of Wildlife SOS who made the rescue possible with the help of Forestry Commission.
Geeta also said, "A healthy weight for an elephant his size is between 11,000 to 12,000lbs. He is one of the lightest elephants although he is the tallest elephant at the facility.”
Raju now lives with 14 other rescued elephants at the same place.
Updated by Cnishq