January 20th, 2017
Photographer: Roger Allen
Laxmi and Suzy are two elephants which are sporting colourful woollen jumpers.
Like them, 21 other elephants in Mathura’s Wildlife SOS Elephant Conservation and Care Centre are being wrapped in cosy jumpers up for the wintry chills of Uttar Pradesh.
All these jumbos have suffered a history of utter neglect and atrocities from the cruel handlers in illegal custody. They are weak, vulnerable, and susceptible to pneumonia.
To keep them warm and cosy, women who live near the WildLife SOS centre began to knit these pyjama-like jumpers. Their handiwork took months to complete after they were requested by the staff at Wildlife SOS.
“The women belong to the Kalandar community, who used to forcefully make bears dance. After Wildlife SOS made a breakthrough in eradicating the practice of dancing bears, we rehabilitated over 3,000 Kalandar families and established alternate livelihoods for them. To empower them, we taught them handiwork skills. Earlier, they had made blankets and jackets for the elephants. But these jumpers belong to a pilot project which was an initial experiment,” Kartick Satyanarayan, founder of the Elephant Conservation and Care Centre, told The Logical Indian.
The elephants are happy with their new jumpers as the principle objective is to keep them warm enough amidst the spine-chilling cold of Uttar Pradesh, when temperatures can dip to 5 to 6 degrees at this time of the year.
“Most of them like their new jumpers. However, some elephants are not comfortable and tend to keep tearing their jumpers off. We have planned to shift back to normal blankets and jackets for them,” says Kartick.
Every single one of these elephants has been rescued from different states in India. These elephants are either taken to the Elephant Conservation Centre in Mathura or Haryana.
Kartick Satyanarayan says they have plans to rescue more elephants this year so that they can be protected, nurtured and given a life of dignity.
Wildlife SOS, headquartered in New Delhi is now actively working in 13 states across India, protecting animals from cruelty and distress. But this is not all: they are also working with people and communities, offering them a better life and spreading awareness about conservation of animals. Wildlife SOS has been able to put an end to the 400-year-old practice of dancing bears and took the last performing bears off the streets of India in 2009.
Wildlife SOS requested The Logical Indian community to volunteer with them and help spread the message of wildlife sustainability. To report any activities related to wildlife, Wildlife SOS can be called on the following numbers:
Delhi NCR: + 91 9871963535
Agra: +91 9917190666
They can be followed here: Wildlife S.O.S & visit their website here: wildlifesos.org