Raju captured the hearts of people from around the world when he cried as he was freed from chains after 50 years, and was taken to join five female elephants at Wildlife SOS’s Elephant Conservation and Care Centre in India. Unfortunately, his freedom could turn out to be short-lived, as Raju’s legal owners have launched a legal battle to win him back.
Raju’s former owners and tormentors have filed a legal case to reclaim him. They insist that Raju is their “rightful property” and no activist has the right to take him away from them. The case to reclaim Raju has been filed in Allahabad, India, and Raju’s fate will be decided on September 4 when the court convenes, reported The Daily Mail.
Raju was captured over 50 years ago when he was just a baby and like many of his playmates suffered starvation and brutal beating to “break his spirit.” Wild elephants are routinely tortured to ensure compliance. The locals say it is all part of the “taming” process.
Over the years, Raju was bought and sold and changed many masters, but his fate remained unchanged. Instead of grazing in the fields in his old age, Raju was forced to beg on the streets. These paved roads are quite brutal on the soft and spongy tissue of elephants’ feet. Some speculate he has had as many as 27 owners, but none showed any mercy on poor Raju or any of the other elephants who are forced to beg and perform tricks.
Raju’s story shot in the limelight in July this year when the Harrow-based charity Wildlife SOS-UK, along with their counterparts Wildlife SOS India, rescued him in a daring midnight operation in India. A ten-strong team of vets and wildlife experts from the charity Wildlife SOS along with 20 Forest Department and Police officers seized Raju in the Uttar Pradesh region.
Unfortunately, the Indian laws could prove tricky, and sensing the same, Charity Wildlife SOS founder Kartick Satyanarayan is in the process of starting a legal fund to help elephants like Raju escape the drudgery.
When freed, Raju had deep cuts owing to the chains that were eating into the flesh. The Allahabad court’s decision could either help free hundreds of such animals or permanently seal their inhuman fate.
[Image Credit | Information Overload, Press People via Mirror]