The terrifying tale of disappearing jumbos

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Mumbai, July 1: Three elephants were reported dead after a speeding train hit them in West Bengal later in May.

An adult elephant was found dead in Nagarahole national park early last month and its tusk has gone missing exposing the lack of patrolling in the tiger reserve.

Animal lovers have blasted using the endangered elephants in jumbo demolition squads in north-east India as cruelty. PETA India, CEO, Poorva Joshipura said: "Forcing these animals to ram into concrete and iron is a violation of Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and shows a total disregard for the welfare of our nation's heritage animal."

India is home to around 25,000 elephants. Their numbers are constantly dwindling due to poaching and the destruction of their habitats by humans.

In the most recent case, it was Bijlee, an elephant working for it's master on Mumbai streets.

The ailing 58-year-old female elephant died early on Sunday. TOI reported that Bijlee's owners forced her to work for almost 50 years by begging on the streets of Mumbai and Thane and standing at weddings, paying little attention to her health or diet. She also suffered from obesity due to bad diet, degenerative joints and osteoporosis.

Caretaker mourns the death of Bijli the elephant

Caretaker mourns the death of Bijli the elephant who died due to prolonged illness in Mumbai on Sunday.

In Mulund

Caretakers of Bijli, the ailing elephant, trying to save her life in Mulund, Mumbai on Friday.

She collapsed and was unable to stand

Social workers try to move Bijlee, a 54-year-old Asian female elephant, with the help of a crane, after she collapsed and was unable to stand on her own in Mumbai on Wednesday.

Wild elephants

A herd of wild elephants spotted at Huskur village on the outskirts of Bengaluru on Monday.

A dead female elephant

Locals gather near a dead female elephant at Upper Dehing forest range in Tinsukia on Sunday.

Three elephants killed after being hit by a speeding train

Forest officials and villagers stand near the bodies of two among the three elephants killed after being hit by a speeding train at Moraghat in Jalpaiguri of West Bengal.

Rescue work is carried out to save an elephant

Rescue work is carried out to save an elephant calf that fell down inside a 15ft deep well at Bentapada village in Cuttack district on Tuesday.

Elephant was struck by a train

A forest guard walks past the body of an elephant after it was struck by a train at the Buxa Tiger Reserve, some 12 kms from Alipurduar on Tuesday. The adult elephant was killed by the speeding Guwahati-bound Somporkkranti Express.

PETA activists take out a campaign

PETA activists take out a campaign to save elephants in Bhubaneswar on Monday in the wake of death of six elephants in a train accident in Ganjam district.

It is also reported that she sustained injuries in an accident. After she collapsed in Mulund, top veterinary doctors made their best efforts to save the injured Bijlee, but they failed.

Founder of Plants and Animals Welfare Society (PAWS) Nilesh Bhanage said, "PAWS had earlier conducted a research on how captive elephants are cruelly treated and forced to beg. Forest officials have to stop any further cruelty to elephants. We don't want any more 'Bijlees' to happen."

In his support, Ganesh Nayak of NGO Animals Matter To Me (AMTM) said, "We only hope Bijlee's death does not go in vain. The state must ensure that other privately owned elephants are not subject to cruelty or forced to beg."

After Bijlee fell fatally ill, even actor Amitabh Bachchan had tweeted several messages and posted on his blog, highlighting the elephant's miserable condition.

In 2008, TOI had reported how Bijlee, then known by her alias Ramkali, had to walk over 100 km to Alibaug to attend a wedding of an MLA's son. On her way back to Mumbai, she fell in a ditch and a crane could pull her out after nine hours. The owners also used several aliases-Ramkali and Ramu-to hoodwink forest officials.

Now, they are concerned about the other elephants who faces similar fate at the hands of their owners.

"Elephants are almost extinct in India. I say this with great responsibility because we have less than 20,000 elephants," Maneka Gandhi, head of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, told Reuters.

She said the problem had become particularly acute because the country's population of tuskers, or adult male elephants, was dwindling fast.

"There are less than 800 tuskers left in India which means the semen distribution is low because there are only 800 inseminators and they are being killed all the time," said Gandhi, a former environment minister.

Environmentalists say the ratio between male and female elephants in India has become so skewed because male elephants are targeted by ivory poachers for their tusks.

Iqbal Malik, a leading animals rights activist, said India was losing 10 percent of its tusker population every year to ivory poachers.

"There are nearly 10 privately owned elephants in and around Mumbai and Thane. The owners buy them from Assam and Madhya Pradesh to make them beg. This is cruelty to the gentle giants," who are naturally acclimatized to roaming in herds in the wild," said activist Bhavin Gathani. of Karuna Parivar.

Thane SPCA has been in talks with the forest department since 2008 to move the elephants to a less populated place. The Central Zoo Authority has been asked to order the setting up of a medical team to check the health of elephants.

OneIndia News

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