An elephant who was b.lind in both eyes and forced to be.g 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 cha.ins around her legs to prevent her from escaping.
The 60-year-old elephant was regularly mani.pulated, b.eaten and whipped while she was pa.raded around towns and temples in India to collect money for her owners.
But the court 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 pam.pered with fresh fruit and treated to buc.kets of water to keep her hy.drated.
Wildlife SOS wrote on their Facebook page: ‘It’s a long journey to get there, but it’s nothing compared to the hard.ships 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 bru.tal wo.unds to her chest, forehead, ears, and back, as well as da.mage to her feet and toenails from being forced to walk on the tarmac.
She also has a large lump 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 healthier life after a period of a.bu.se.’
Yaduraj Khadpekar, the senior veterinarian at Wildlife SOS, said Lakhi would be pr.one 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.