An elephant who was b.lind in both eyes and forced to beg by her owner has been rescued by a wildlife sanctuary.
Officials were forced to intervene after they discovered Lakhi was being used as a performer and tied chains around her legs to prevent her from escaping.
The 60-year-old elephant was regularly manipulated, beaten, and whipped while she was paraded around towns and temples in India to collect money for her owners.
But the c.our.t order allowing a team of vets from Wildlife SOS to rescue Lakhi ultimately gave her the freedom she deserves.
The beautiful Ellie will now start a 1,400km journey to the sanctuary’s center in Mathura, North India.
She will be pampered with fresh fruit and treated to buckets of water to keep her hydrated.
Wildlife SOS wrote on their Facebook page: ‘It’s a long journey to get there, but it’s nothing compared to the hardships Lakhi has already faced.
‘She is pretty smart. She picked up the smell of the bananas in the caretaker’s pocket and reached out with the help of her trunk to grab them as he closed his eyes for a little nap on the truck.
When Lakhi was discovered, she had b.ru.tal w.oun.ds to her chest, forehead, ears, and back, as well as da.ma.ge to her feet and toenails from being forced to walk on the tarmac.
She also has a large lum.p on her head.
Geeta Seshamani, a co-founder of the sanctuary, said that authorities need to be stricter in keeping elephants in captivity.
She said: ‘Given the plight of the captive elephants we have rescued, perhaps more stringent guidelines and enforcement of guidelines or some form of checking on the welfare of elephants held in private ownership.’
Satyajit Gujar, deputy director of forest conservation in Pune, said: ‘We are extremely pleased to see that Lakhi will lead a better and he.al.thier life after a period of a.bu.se.’
Yaduraj Khadpekar, the senior veterinarian at Wildlife SOS, said Lakhi would be prone to severe foot dis.orders for the rest of her life due to the a.bu.se.
The Wildlife SOS team also asked op.hthalmo.logists from the UK to explore Lakhi’s ability to restore vision in at least one eye.
There are an estimated 20,000 Indian elephants left in the world.