Following reports that an emaciated female elephant named Lakshmi was being forced to beg on the streets of Chhatarpur in Madhya Pradesh, PETA India launched a campaign with the support of local activists and volunteers to rescue her, as she needs urgent veterinary care along with food and water. Lakshmi, whose bones are protruding, is extremely unwell but was forced to walk on hot tarred roads for begging in violation of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972; the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960; and central government guidelines.
Based on the complaint by PETA India and local volunteers on 1 December, Lakshmi was taken to the local forest department depot at Bada Malhera. PETA India’s veterinarians concluded that she is suffering from chronic pain (evident from her arched back and shifting of bodyweight from one leg to the other while resting), severe lameness, deformity of the legs (likely caused by degenerative joint diseases), abscesses on both hips and arthritis and ankylosis of both hind leg caused due to long term mineral deficiency.
Concern about Lakshmi’s abuse highlights the plight of elephants used for begging, rides, and performances in India. Frequently controlled through beatings and prodded and gouged in sensitive areas behind their knees and ears with an ankus, they often languish without veterinary care and are fed unsuitable food. Many suffer from painful foot rot and leg wounds from constantly rubbing against chains. Captive elephants also commonly show signs of severe psychological distress – such as swaying, head-bobbing, and weaving – behaviour not found in healthy elephants in nature. Frustrated captive elephants often harm or kill their mahouts or others around them.
As revealed by many Animal Welfare Board of India inspections and the reports of state forest departments, most of the elephants in the country are being held illegally, since their custody has been transferred without necessary approval from forest departments or they’ve been transported to a different state without permission.
You can help Lakshmi.
Request Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Forest Minister Dr. Kunwar Vijay Shah to help India’s skinniest elephant by ordering her rehabilitation.