A first of its kind unique elephant conservation centre in Agra rescues elephants from various party of the country and provides a safe haven where the animal can roam about unfettered.
The 10- acre centre has been opened by the Wildlife Association and Save Our Souls (SOS) and is located near Mathura.
Senior veterinary officer of Wildlife Association, Yaduraj, threw more light on this elephant haven.
"At present, there are seven elephants here, and we call this elephant conservation and care centre or elephant haven. Whichever elephant you see here has been rescued from some place or the other, which we refer to as 'begging elephant' in English, that roam the streets and seek money,are present during weddings or during the inauguration of shops as well as those elephants who were uncared for and abandoned, or those whose owners did not possess proper documents. Elephants that needed rescue and treatment have been sent here and I am very proud to say that this is the first elephant centre for the country where they are kept unfettered 24 hours a day," he said.
The centre is built to cater to every necessity and requirement that would satisfy and please an elephant, like the change in diet with the changing season, treatment and exercise. The unfettered elephants are allowed to roam free in a radius of 10 to 15 kilometres every morning and evening.
A nine- feet deep pool has been built for the elephants to beat the summer heat. The caretakers have tried to reconstruct an exact replica of the wildlife forest which has made the elephants feel more at home resulting in improved health.
"There are a lot of benefits to the elephants here. After coming here, every elephant has become healthy and puts on weight. Psychologically also they have improved. We have provided the elephants with a lot of enrichments which is very important for them , but which people often neglect," said Yaduraj.
Enrichments are the elephant's experiences in wildlife and we try to provide all those experiences to the elephant here. For example, it plucks fruits from the trees and eats leaves and bushes. We have provided them with a similar environment here. This helps in the improvement of the psychological health of the elephant and for physical health, our treatments are going on. There has been a lot of improvement in their health here," he added.
There are both male and female elephants at the centre. At present, an elephant that had lost his vision in an accident is being treated. The caretakers here have appealed to animal lovers to visit the centre and contribute towards the improvement and well being of the animals.
A similar elephant centre is underway in Haryana.