Due to their stoicism and calm demeanor, elephants are a favorite within the animal kingdom. People furnish their homes with golden and bronzed statues and tapestries of elephants pictured with elegant fabrics and exotic facial adornments, and plush elephant toys are a centerpiece of many nurseries. So when the story of an elephant’s plight surfaces among the media, people are left shaking their heads wondering how a human could purposefully harm such a beloved animal.
According to the Telegraph, elephants thrive in a group and even develop individual characteristics amongst their peers:
“Each individual in a group has a very different personality type,” said Professor Phyllis Lee, a behavioral psychologist at University of Stirling and chair of the scientific advisory committee for the Amboseli Trust for Elephants. “We found that these personalities have a key role in how successful the family is and how they cope with threats and adversity like starvation or drought. It is the ability to influence others and sustain friendships are important to an elephant group, while in other animals it is often aggression or dominance.”
So imagine an elephant kept in a captive isolation, with no way to help himself perceive any of the threats that pursue him in his daily life.
Enter the story of Mohan. Mohan is a working elephant in India who was captured as a calf 50 years ago along with another calf named Raju. Since the two elephants were captured, their days were filled with hard work, insufficient sustenance, and vicious beatings to force them to comply with their trainers’ wishes. Even though they were in isolation, they still had each other, even if it is the bare minimum of social interactions. Their nights were spent in chains until opportunity attempted to knock. In June of 2012, the group called Wildlife SOS was able to rescue Raju from his chains; however, Mohan’s owners caught wind of the rescue mission and moved him, thwarting the efforts for Mohan.
So Mohan is still suffering. Wildlife SOS gave a second attempt and sent a team and a new elephant transport vehicle in to rescue him, but were met with an angry mob, 300 persons strong. Tensions escalated quickly, and the police told the rescue group the operation was too risky, so they backed off, intending to wait until things calmed down and then try again. Even though Mohan’s owner previously lost custody of him in the courts, he has decided to file for revision in order to regain ownership.
The final court date was scheduled for August 13th, but due to unforeseen and unlucky circumstances, the date has been pushed back to a later date--so Mohan continues to live in isolation.
So why is the rescue of Mohan important? The same reason that Cecil is important. It is imperative that these animal abusers know that the supporters will not back down and that their abuse will not go without consequence. Animals can aid humans and live in harmony with their daily lives, but they do not need to be used to the humans’ disposal; furthermore, it is wrong to keep an otherwise extremely social animal in captivity, serving the poor animal a lifetime sentence of isolation and anguish. Wildlife SOS and Arm the Animals will continue to support the rescue of Mohan until he is removed from isolation. Co-ordinator of Wildlife SOS, Baiji Raj has previously stated:
'We will leave no stone unturned to rescue Mohan and are hopeful that we can successfully rescue him.”Join us in our efforts to Free Mohan!