September 24, 2018

10:05 am

Finding A Home For Delhi's Last Elephants

It turns out that the need to re-home elephants is far from an exclusively African problem. This week, authorities in Delhi are struggling with how to handle a watershed moment: the evacuation of Delhi's last elephants. In the 1960s, Delhi was home to at least 200 elephants -- many of which were used for blessings at temples or to carry grooms to their weddings. Fast forward to 2018 and there are just six remaining in the Indian capital which is the eleventh most polluted city in the world. The six remaining elephants wade and play in the Yamuna, one of the most polluted rivers in the world.

There has always been a desire from animal rights activists to re-home the elephants but the problem has taken on serious urgency now that four of the six elephants have fallen ill. However, not everyone wants the elephants taken out of Delhi.

Mehboob Ali, the owner of the elephants, likens the elephant rehoming to theft.

"My family has been keeping elephants for six generations," he told News24 on Monday. "They are like our family and have been with us through thick and thin. We cannot live without each other."

Ali and his family vehemently deny that the elephants experience any neglect. Animal rights activists counter that their very presence in the city amounts to a cruel exploitation.

With the elephants falling ill, the Indian government has finally decided to seize the elephants. Sadly, it's not as simple as removing the elephants from an inhospitable living situation. Now, they have to find a new and healthy home for six of the largest land mammals on earth. So, while the seizure is imminent, it won't take place until officials know where they're moving the giants.

If you happen to own a large Indian forest with ample trees and watering holes, now might be the time to speak up.