The following note arrived from Kartick Satyanarayan on September 10th, 2011:
"Dear Verna and Michael,
I write with a heavy heart that Champa just left for her heavenly abode and has passed on to happier and more peaceful pastures. We are currently carrying out her post mortem procedures (required by law in the presence of forest department officials) followed by a burial ceremony. Champa lives on in our hearts as the founder of elephant haven. We all pray for her departed soul to rest in peace."
Love and prayers
Kartick, Geeta and the WSOS team
HSI Director, Verna Simpson at Agra in April 2011
Champa's Life Prior to Agra
She arrived at the sanctuary a beaten animal. She was hot, tired, hungry, infected and her feet were so sore from pounding the hot streets of Delhi she could not keep them on the ground but had to keep lifting them, one by one to find relief. From the minute she was in our care she was a pampered princess and we were so grateful to be able to provide the love and care she had never known.
The two years she was with us were such an enormous contrast to her previous existence (pdf). When she arrived at the Agra sanctuary she was a broken animal - malnourished, beaten and very, very ill, so it was our opportunity to turn her life around. Her diet was not only adequate for the first time in her life, it was delicious! Not only were the staff at the Centre trying to outdo each other with special treats for Champa, but many locals would arrive each day ' ˜with something special' . And I am sure you all remember the precious pink shoes we had made for her to help her feet heal.
It was very hard to accept that the long term deprivation she had endured had taken its toll and we had lost our fight to bring her back to health. Before we rescued her the only ' ˜medication' she had received was a few kilos of tobacco on a regular basis. The mahouts believe this heals anything, and of course it is cheap in India. Unfortunately the vets seem to think it was the long term effect of regular tobacco use that interfered with the antibiotics and treatment. I was privileged enough to spend some time with Champa earlier this year ' “ to feed and bathe this gentle sweet girl.
Director Verna Simpson with Champa at Agra, April 2011
Friends at last!
After years of abuse it was incredible that she could be so tender, and you could really feel her gratitude.When we brought in the other rescued elephants it was like she couldn' t wait to show them this magical new world.
Champa and Friends
The day Bhola arrived, so ill and malnourished and recently further injured after being hit by a truck, Champa needed no encouragement to welcome him and help him in those dark days when he hovered between life and death. They became inseparable and Champa stayed by his side until he regained his strength and learnt to trust the staff at the centre.
Champa and Bhola enjoying a bath
Now it was Bhola' s turn to watch over Champa and he stayed close to her side till the end. Fortunately the three additional elephants we have rescued since the Sanctuary opened have bonded well and although Bhola is obviously upset at her passing, the other elephants are staying by his side in what seems to be an effort to comfort him.