Leading the way for compassionate management of elephants, non-government organisation Wildlife SOS has established India’s first-ever chain-free elephant care centre at Mathura in Uttar Pradesh.

The project has been undertaken in collaboration with the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department, which currently houses seven elephants rescued from circuses.

Elephants captured as young calves from the wild are subjected to brutal treatment by their handlers. Once trained, they are sold off to circuses where they are further tortured in the name of training.

The NGO said their misery does not end there as the circus, they are sold off for use in events like weddings, election campaigns or temple ceremonies. Some of the male elephants face even worse treatment during “musth”, where they are chained on all the four legs and are made to stand on their own urine and dung till the time they come out of the “musth”. Numerous elephants have died because of the infection due to the injuries caused by the iron chain belt around them.

At the wildlife SOS elephant care centre, a unique method of management is employed wherein there are no chains and hooks and instead mahouts are trained to deal elephants with positive reinforcement, freedom, care and compassion.