Last summer, Wildlife SOS' ever vigilant informers at last spotted Bijli, a female elephant we had been tracking since 2009. She had been hit by a speeding vehicle while on the highway and her hind leg had set very badly leaving her with a permanent limp. A small sized gentle girl, Bijli had lived a harrowing life, changing owners frequently, malnutritioned, scrawny and defeated by life' s injustices.
Bijli had known no respite from relentless work. In spite of an aching, badly set leg, she lugged her human cargo at fairs, stood patiently in finery at temples and marriages, endlessly groaning in pain with festering injuries and an indifferent owner. Bijli (whose name means ' lightning' ) first crossed our path four years ago when we had no means to rescue her. An elephant project, at that time, seemed like an impossible dream.
So it was with great anxiety that we determined that we needed to rescue her and take her off the roads of North India permanently. Finally we did have the place for her, right next to Champa and Bhola in our tiny elephant heaven.
Our appeal met with immediate response from two of our most generous donors, Joan Pearson and Humane Society Australia. Joan Pearson, whose love for animals domestic and wild is legendary, added to the generosity of the donors of Humane Society Australia. It was all just in time to prevent Bijli from being sold at the November 2010 Sonepur Mela, the only Mela, or fair, still held where elephants are traded openly.
Our informers warned us that she was already too abused and very weak and should not be sold yet again to be ' trained' by new handlers. As we know, the training of elephants in India is simply through beating the animal for brutally long periods of time. So it was with great relief that our team finally trucked Bijli back to our haven for abused elephants.
Bijli is much shorter than Champa and at the moment dehydrated and tired. ' Bossy' Champa with her hospitality has allowed sweet Bijli to share a place near her but stands between Bhola and Bijli during their siestas and walks. The mahouts respect that, and Champa is too stout to argue with. Thankfully Bijli has accepted her place in the family gracefully. Shy Bhola, on the other hand, is making the most of being flanked by two lovely females! Our vet and the mahouts are hoping to give her all the healthy feed and rest she needs and a life of retired dignity.
The first step of rescuing Bijli is over but she will now need a lot of care and loving attention to regain her health and spirit.