After spending decades on the streets as a beggar, 55-year-old Arya, a blind elephant, has finally got medical aid and veterinary care at an elephant hospital in Uttar Pradesh’s Farah town on Mathura district’s border.
The facility is run by the NGO Wildlife SOS in collaboration with the UP Forest Department, which claim it is India’s first and only elephant hospital.
The elephant is blind in both the eyes and suffers from severe arthritis, among other medical issues. The elephant will now receive “medical treatment and veterinary care along with proper medical procedures, including laser therapy and hydrotherapy”.
Arya spent the last several decades on the streets of UP as a begging elephant.
Baiju Raj M.V., Director, Conservation Projects, Wildlife SOS, said that the elephant hospital in Mathura is currently providing medical treatment to several blind and handicapped elephants.
Life on the streets for a begging elephant is very harsh, filled with excruciating pain and unforgiving labour with little or no access to medical help, nutritious food and fresh water.
Due to deteriorating health, Arya was brought to the elephant hospital where Wildlife SOS veterinary doctors kept her under observation, which revealed that she is chronically blind.
The veterinary doctors were shocked to find that her left eye has suffered a rupture due to an injury from a sharp object, possibly an ‘ankush’ or bull hook, a tool used to control elephants. The veterinary assessment confirmed that the eye on the right side lost its vision due to severe malnutrition.
Besides, Arya suffers from osteoarthritis, abscess, worn-out footpads and overgrown, cracked toenails. The elephant is also underweight currently, weighing 3,100 kg, and she has been placed under a carefully calibrated diet that will help her regain strength without affecting her arthritic limbs.
Mathura district Forest Officer Raghunath Mishra (IFS) said, “The elephant hospital in Mathura is well-equipped with expert veterinary care. This blind elephant will receive the best possible care here.”
Ilayaraja, Deputy Director, Veterinary Services, Wildlife SOS, said, “Arya is bilaterally blind, severely malnourished and suffering from acute medical issues. The next few days are very critical and we are conducting health examinations and closely monitoring her progress.”
Kartick Satyanarayan, Co-founder and CEO, Wildlife SOS, said, “The elephant hospital has become a symbol of hope and many elephant owners are contacting the forest department for permission to bring their sick elephants to the hospital for veterinary treatment. We are very grateful to the Chief Wildlife Warden of Uttar Pradesh for support and cooperation.”
Wildlife SOS is a charity established in 1998 with the primary objective of rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife in distress across India.