For over 51 years, 70 year old elephant ‘Gajraj’ belonging to the Royal family of Aundh, in the Satara district of Maharashtra performed his responsibilities as a temple elephant where local fans saw him as an icon of worship as he played an important duty in festivities and temple processions.
Last week, the saga of this spectacular tusker took a remarkable turn for the better! Gajraj whose name translates to “King of Elephants’ finally retired from his duties and was entrusted to wildlife rescue and rehabilitation NGO, Wildlife SOS for his long term medical therapy and lifetime treatment. Gajraj’s plight was brought to attention by a PETA campaign and as concerned elephant lovers from worldwide discovered Gajraj’s medical condition, hundreds of requests for Wildlife SOS to intervene and aid him gathered./
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A medical examination had exposed that Gajraj required medical interest for his toenail abscess which could spread to the bone in addition to the hip abscesses while his foot pads suffered severe degeneration. This made him a candidate for geriatric life time care at Wildlife SOS Elephant Conservation & Care Center in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh.
The royal family of Aundh provided him a warm farewell. The local citizens however become extremely emotional and hostile as Gajraj was preparing to leave, collecting in large numbers with things taking an awful twist as the mob became unruly. With each min the atmosphere became gripped with tension and a large police force was released to guarantee protection for the Wildlife SOS rescue team.
Eventually the elephant was placed inside the Elephant Ambulance– presently India’s only specifically designed elephant ambulance. He after that embarked on a 1500 kilometre trip in addition to specialist vets, paramedics, elephant caretakers and rescue group to his brand-new home.
As the Elephant Ambulance arrived at the Wildlife SOS Elephant Conservation and Care Center, Gajraj first gingerly tested the ground with the trunk prior to gently placing his foot out of the vehicle after which he strolled with no chains on his feet for the first time, accompanied by caring elephant keepers and vets to his new house, where he will live without any worry, neither will he be required to work at a temple or at ceremonies ever again!
Gajraj can currently be seen investing his day leisurely munching on fresh fruits and green fodder while splashing around in his individual pool and taking dust baths. The veterinarians have started treating him with daily medicated foot soaks and draining his abscesses, while giving him a special diet along with dietary supplements to aid regain his strength.