By Becca Husselbee
An elephant who spent nearly four decades in captivity after being rented out for use in processions and wedding ceremonies has been rescued from wildlife traffickers.
Elephant conservation charity, Wildlife SOS, tracked the movements of this elephant for nearly a year to gather evidence before she was rescued from illegal custody in Farrukhabad, India.
Priyanka the elephant, believed to be around 44 years-old, was found in a neglected state after a six-day operation to rescue her and was suffering from progressive blindness, arthritis, a degenerative joint disorder as well as foot issues.
The elephant was being used illegally and rented out for processions and weddings ceremonies but was rescued on November 23 along with the help of the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department and local Police.
She was transferred using the Wildlife SOS elephant ambulance, the first of its kind in India, and taken to the Elephant Care and Conservation Center, in Mathura, where she will be under lifetime care and treatment.
A medical examination conducted by veterinarians revealed that she suffers from severe malnourishment and progressive blindness amongst other issues due to severe neglect and complete lack of medical care over years of surviving on an improper diet.
Her feet were in a terrible condition with overgrown toenails, worn out foot-pads and she had developed an abscess on the right hind leg as well as a fungal infection in her ears and trunk.
Dr. Gochalan Elango, Wildlife SOS Veterinarian said: “Priyanka is highly malnourished.
“Her hind limbs are bent inwards due to severe nutritional deficiency and she is suffering from degenerative joint disorder and arthritis.
“We have also observed overgrown, cracked toenails and severe wear and tear on the foot pads.
“She required immediate veterinary intervention and our team has already started off with her treatment procedure.”
Priyanka now will receive treatment for her injuries and will also enjoy a nutritious diet, gentle exercise, and frequent soaks in the centres pool.
Geeta Seshamani, co-founder Wildlife SOS said: “It is heartening to see Priyanka take her first steps towards a life of recovery and freedom.
“She is in need of a lot of medical care right now but we are relieved to know that Priyanka can now simply be an elephant in the company of other rescued elephants.”