Hello dear Friends, Family, and Colleagues!
I am overjoyed to share with you my exciting news -
an incredible opportunity has come my way. I have been invited to work with and guide mahouts (Elephant handlers) at two Elephant Sanctuaries in India.
You all know it has been my life goal to be in service to Elephants who are in such great need. These ancient species are targeted victims of human brutality to the point where extinction is no longer a threat but a reality. In one breath, they are revered as gods, while simultaneously they are ravaged by human violence. Asian Elephants (Elephas maximus) face another challenge - the lethal suffering of captivity.
Given my seven years of experience as an Elephant carer in a North American sanctuary and as
The Kerulos Center’s Director of Elephant Care, I am travelling to India in November for three weeks to work share my knowledge and experience with mahouts (Elephant handlers) at two new sanctuaries where five Elephants have found refuge and a chance to reclaim their lives. The life of working captive Asian Elephants is grueling and cruel. They are forced to work day in and day out, they are beaten, chained, and subjected to terrible conditions – unprotected from the elements, poor nutrition, and soul breaking isolation from their family. Let me introduce:Aneesha
: She is 48 years old and a former logging Elephant who sustained a “bad accident” 11 years ago. Work as a timber elephant is one of the most hazardous amongst all the work and labor that captive elephants are forced to endure. Past injuries inflicted on her forelimbs, either intentionally or by accident, caused a serious disability. She was then forced into temple begging 3 years later. Her stilted, stiff and laborious walking style that she suffers is presumably due to this tragic event in her past.
Aneesha after rescueLakshmi
: She is about 50 years old, and was a street begging and blessing Elephant. Her abscessed feet were so painful when rescued, she could not stand for more than 25 minutes.
: She is 27 years oldJayanti
: She is 17-18 years oldSandhya
: She is 47 years old – all 3 were former temple begging blessing Elephants.
Indu, Jayanti and Sandhya in chains prior to rescue.
Street temple-begging blessing – place a coin
into the Elephant’s trunk, she hands it to the mahout,
then she "blesses" taps the person’s head. Note the mahout (Elephant handler) keeping pressure on her elbow with the sharp ankus (bullhook) to insure she submits and complies.
I can't tell you what it would mean to these Elephants as well as for the people there to have some help and guidance in compassionately caring for these captive-held beings, and guiding the mahouts respectfully from "handlers" to healers through practiced sanctuary principles initiating trauma recovery for all. Aside from these physical ailments, all issues including physical and psychological damage are a result of being held captives - blindness, malnutrition, inflamed joints and arthritis, abscessed sores on feet and nails, bodily pressure sores - all extremely physically painful, all under the umbrella of complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) - all were brutally kidnapped as youngsters from their mothers and families from the wild, or are the offspring of such. Either way, their compromised and deprived existences have denied them all their natural lives, rupturing life-long relations, bonds and miles per day of movment, foraging and engaged activity with their Mothers and families. Instead they have been exploited to painfully suffer a life in chains – forced to withstand uncertainty, hunger, thirst, isolation, chronic pain and relentless threat, domination and violence.
UNCHAINING THE GODS
My work in India is part of a long term collaboration, the Unchaining the Gods Project is partnered with the wonderful Indian non-profits who have done so much for Elephant welfare:
Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre (WRRC), Compassion Unlimited Plus Action (CUPA), and the TREE Foundation (Trust for Environment Education, Conservation, and Community-Development, and member of the Roots & Shoots International Network of The Jane Goodall Institute).
Our shared goal is to bring Elephants to sanctuary and support Elephant trauma recovery and wellbeing through education, exchange, and cultural transformation. In addition, my experience will directly aid The Kerulos Center’s new initiative All Bull Elephant Sanctuary (ABES) which will provide lifetime care, dignity, and love for male North American male Elephants (bulls) exploited in zoos and circuses.
I am reaching out to you to help make this happen.
My tentative date to depart for India is November 21st 2016. While my on-the-ground travel, food, and lodging expenses will be covered in India, I need funds to cover my air travel, vaccines and travel documents required for international work. The much appreciated funds generously donated will also help provide for educational material preparation, report and training development, and care for my pets. I will be writing regular blogs illustrated with photos to keep you informed about the project and the wonderful people and Elephants involved.
Thank you so much from me and the Elephants.
Indu, Jayanti and Sandhya chain-free in Sanctuary beginning their new lives.