Saturday 16 February 2019

Sunder the elephant finally packs his trunk after years of abuse and torment

Sunder the elephant has packed his trunk and is on his way to freedom (Photo: Peta India)
Sunder the elephant has packed his trunk and is on his way to freedom (Photo: Peta India)
Denise Calnan

Denise Calnan

An elephant that was ill-treated and not given proper care by his minders in India has finally packed his trunk and is on his way to freedom at a rehabilitation centre.

It had been claimed by animal rights campaigners Peta India since 2012 that the elephant, named Sunder, was ill-treated by his ‘mahouts’ (riders) and was not given proper care at his tethering place near Kolhapur in West India.

The Supreme Court in India finally upheld the Bombay High Court’s judgment ordering Sunder’s release by June 15 at the end of last month, the Indian Express reports. Sunder is now on his way to a 49.5 hectare forested elephant care centre.

Forest officials and veterinarians began the rescue operation at approximately 6.30am yesterday morning and, under mild sedation, managed to put Sunder in a truck that will bring him to a rehab centre in Bangalore.

Officials dug a ditch just outside Sunder’s tethering place and lowered the back end of the special truck to allow the elephant to climb onto it through a special downward sloping ramp.

Two vets, their assistants and officials accompanied the elephant to the centre, around 600 kilometres from his former home.

It has taken a week to get Sunder into the truck as bananas, jackfruits, pineapples and sugarcanes were used to entice the large animal from its tethering space. The decision was finally taken to mildly sedate the animal as it was proved impossible to guide the elephant without its ‘mahout’.

It will be the longest distance an untrained elephant will travel during a transfer in India.

The elephant was first gifted to Kolhapur’s Jyotiba Temple trustees for use during their religious functions, but after such allegations surfaced, the elephant was moved to Warnanagar.

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