A medical center in Mathura, 180 kilometers (111 miles) south of the Indian capital New Delhi, armed with all the modern facilities has patients lined up outside awaiting their turn for the treatment.
The patients awaiting diagnosis, laser treatment, thermal imaging, ultrasonography, hydrotherapy, and even quarantine are not humans, but the largest existing land animals – the elephants.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Kartick Satyanarayan, head of Wildlife SOS -- a non-profit conservation organization – coinciding with the World Veterinary Day being observed on Saturday said rehabilitating animals and raising awareness was important for wildlife protection.
“Today, only about 40,000 Asian elephants remain in the wild. The rest are shackled in captivity, snatched away from their natural habitats. In India practices such as riding elephants for tourism, using elephants in wedding processions, and begging remain common despite the increase in public awareness,” he said.
Besides setting up an Elephant Conservation and Care Centre (ECCC) in Mathura in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh in 2010, the organization has set up another center now in Haryana, adjacent to the capital New Delhi.
He said that the hospital focuses on the plight of captive elephants in India, who are privately owned and have the cruel history of being used for begging, or are held in temples for 'blessings the temple visitors' or are being forced to perform in circuses.
The injured, sick, and old elephants now out of work are lined up at the Mathura center. Veterinarians at the hospital say that even after rehabilitation the elephants remain completely dependent on humans for their day-to-day survival.
“Therefore, a team of expert veterinarians provides the best possible care to these ill-treated jumbos. The hospital is equipped to test and diagnose elephants for a host of diseases and pathogens with an inbuilt path lab,” said Satyanarayan.
A dedicated team of veterinarians and trained staff works can be seen working round the clock to cater to the needs of the rescued elephants and to reassure them that they are in a safe place.
Dr. Arun Sha, director at the Wildlife SOS, told Anadolu Agency that veterinarians take care of rescued elephants suffering from critical ailments.
“Many elephants also lose vision either due to malnutrition or injuries. Such elephants require constant monitoring and special amenities such as rubber padding in enclosures. Veterinarians provide the daily medical care needed to these elephants while also preparing diet plans for each elephant to keep them healthy,” he said.
The hospital conducts regular blood diagnoses of the elephants and monitors their health, besides conducting regular workshops for visiting veterinarians, biologists, and elephant caretakers from around the world.