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Bhola, The Blind Elephant Celebrates Ten Years Of Freedom With Wildlife SOS Agra
AGRA || The 55-year-old blind elephant – Bhola, is celebrating a decade of freedom from abuse, after spending years bound in shackles. Bhola’s rescue by Wildlife SOS & the Forest Department after a grave life-threatening highway accident in 2010 grabbed headlines, resulting in a global outpour of support. Following the accident, Bhola was brought to the Elephant Conservation & Care Centre (ECCC) in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, for critical medical treatment.
In 2010, Bhola was being illegally transported across porous state borders at night when he collided with a cargo truck on a dimly lit highway in Noida, Uttar Pradesh.
He was left battling for his life - unable to support his own weight. With the timely intervention of the Forest Department & Wildlife SOS, Bhola was rushed in for urgent medical treatment to the Elephant Conservation and Care Centre, in Mathura, run by Wildlife SOS and the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department.
Before his accident, Bhola withstood decades of abuse at the hands of his owner - often being tied up to trees by his tail - leaving him with a severe tail injury. The five-tonne pachyderm was regularly whipped and beaten with an iron rod by his owners and the years of brutality had left him sightless – blind in one eye, with a cataract in the other.
Gravely injured with bruises covering his body, Bhola looked broken and weak and his chances of survival were bleak but his power of will and Wildlife SOS’ staunch determination to give Bhola a better life culminated in his recovery journey.
Today, as Bhola completes a decade under the NGO’s care, he looks quite different from the weak and exhausted pachyderm that first arrived at the centre.
He enjoys healthy & delicious meals consisting of raw bananas, bottle gourd, cucumbers, pumpkin, spinach and berseem (fodder), frequent mud and dust baths, and strolling in his spacious enclosure. As Bhola is entering the geriatric phase, his routine has been revitalized along with his diet and enrichments. He is currently undergoing regular medicated foot baths and specialized treatment.
To commemorate Bhola’s 10th rescue anniversary, the Wildlife SOS team organized a lavish spread to mark the celebrations. He was welcomed with a mouth-watering feast of bananas, watermelon, papayas & cucumber laced on a delicious ‘cake' made out of cooked pulses. He also enjoyed a soothing dip in his pool and indulged in mud baths.
Dr Pramod Rajput, Veterinarian at the Wildlife SOS Elephant Hospital, said, “There’s been significant improvement in Bhola’s condition with intensive treatment, but some of his injuries are persistent and require continuous medication. Our team has left no stone unturned in ensuring that every need of Bhola is met, and his survival instincts and sheer will power continue to surprise us all.”
Kartick Satyanarayan, Co-Founder & CEO Wildlife SOS said, “Bhola has an incredibly painful history, rendering him with many psychological and physical traumas. A decade may seem like a long time, but elephants have long memories and Bhola continues to treat everything around him with caution. We can perhaps never reverse the pain he underwent, but hope to continue providing him with the love and care he truly needs.”
Geeta Seshamani, Co-founder & Secretary Wildlife SOS said, “Bhola was one of the first elephants rescued by Wildlife SOS and his journey with us has been nothing short of a revelation. He continues to pave the way forward for our work towards rehabilitating abused and distressed elephants and remains a beacon of hope, even for extremely grave cases.”
Baiju Raj M.V, Director - Conservation Projects, Wildlife SOS said, “When Bhola lay bleeding and broken, we were not sure he would survive as the amount of physical and mental trauma suffered was far too much but we knew we would do everything to save him. We are immensely glad to have been able to help Bhola and provide him the life he truly deserves.”