In spite of the current positive news in the environmental sphere, it seems as though there are certain people out there who still simply do not care for our planet and its animal inhabitants.
Elephants, in particular, endure immense suffering and abuse as well as being targeted by trophy hunters. But there can be light at the end of the tunnel, as today's story about an elephant named Raju proves.
Keep scrolling to see the unbelievable before and after pics as well as a clip of the elephant now.
In spite of knowing the negative impact it has...
via: Getty ImagesThere are some out there who seemingly can't resist hunting and killing exotic (and often endangered) animals.
It seems like almost no wild animal is safe.
via: ShutterstockBut there is one species that seems particularly vulnerable to the cruelty of human beings.
Elephants have long been at risk of hunters.
via: ShutterstockThe gigantic animals seem almost irresistible to trophy hunters and poachers alike.
And there's one primary reason for this.
via: ShutterstockElephants' large side teeth (known as tusks) are made of ivory - one of the rarest and most valuable materials on Earth.
Which, of course, means one thing.
via: Getty ImagesHumans want it for themselves! Honestly, humanity is really the worst.
Ivory has a whole host of uses.
via: Getty ImagesIn the past, it was used to construct piano keys. Now, they tend to be made of more humane material - but there's still a huge demand for ivory, particularly for ornaments and decorative items.
Poaching elephants for ivory has a long tradition behind it.
via: Getty ImagesHere's past U.S. President, Theodore Roosevelt cheerily posing alongside an elephant he killed in 1910. It doesn't look too dissimilar from the images of trophy hunters of today!
And poaching isn't the only suffering elephants endure...
via: Getty ImagesMany are abused, held captive for entertainment purposes, and passed on from owner to owner.
Numerous organizations have been known to abuse and exploit their animals.
More and more circuses have been going "animal-free..."
via: ShutterstockCircuses required animals to travel hundreds of miles every year in small and confined spaces, and as Animal Equality stated, people who visit an animal circus will learn nothing about an animal’s natural behavior, and, instead, will only see an animal stressed and anxious due to constant slavery. Many circuses around the world have seen the impact that this has had on animals and have made the wise and kind decision to no longer involve animals in their practices.
The use of animals in festivals is no different...
But there can be light at the end of the tunnel...
And this was remarkably the case for an abused elephant named Raju.
via: YouTubeRaju has endured fifty years of abuse, starvation, and humiliation.
It is believed that Raju was captured as a baby...And has been passed from owner to owner around twenty-seven times in his life.
For half a century, Raju has been subject to unthinkable abuse.
via: YouTubeHe has been held in spiked chains, starved, and beaten for most of his life.
Every day, he was forced to hold out his trunk to beg for money and food from tourists.
via: YouTubeAnd was discovered bleeding from spiked shackles, living solely on handouts from tourists - clinging onto life by eating plastic and paper.
Raju was freed by a rescue operation back in 2014.“His cruel handler even tore out the hair from his tail to sell as good luck charms. The exploitation and abuse just had to stop," Kartick Satyanarayan, founder of Wildlife SOS, a wildlife charity, said, as per MailOnline.
Wildlife SOS was made aware of Raju by the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department in India.
via: YouTubeAlthough it took an entire year for him to be freed. Pooja Binepal, the U.K. spokesman for Wildlife SOS, explained: “He hasn’t been fed properly and tourists started giving him sweet food items and because he was in a state of hunger and exhaustion he began eating plastic and paper."
To save Raju, a midnight operation was launched in July 2014 by a 10 man team of vets and wildlife experts from the charity.
via: YouTubeThe rescue operation took place at night in order to ensure few people as possible got in the way and to protect Raju from the sun.
However, Raju's owner wasn't giving up without a fight...
via: Facebook“He began to shout commands to terrify Raju—and try to provoke him," Satyanarayan revealed. “It created an incredibly dangerous situation as a bull elephant could snap a human like a tooth pick if he becomes afraid or angry. “When that failed he then put a series of chains around his legs in an attempt to prevent us removing him, so viciously tight that were cutting into his legs."
But when the team did manage to free Raju, they couldn't believe what they saw...They were astonished to see tears rolling down the mammal's face.
“It was so incredibly emotional for all of us. We knew in our hearts he realized he was being freed."“Elephants are not only majestic, but they are highly intelligent animals, who have been proven to have feelings of grief, so we can only imagine what torture half a century has been like for him."
Once Raju was given additional sedation, he was then escorted on the back of an open-top lorry to the charity’s Elephant Conservation and Care Center in Mathura.
via: Facebook“Incredibly he stepped out of his truck and took his first step to freedom at one minute past midnight on July 4, 2014, which felt so extraordinarily fitting," Satyanarayan explained.