India’s 1st elephant memorial opens on Agra-Mathura highway

Agra, Nov 8 (IANS) The country’s first memorial for elephants, which died in harness or as victims of human brutalities, was opened on the Agra-Mathura highway on Friday at a facility developed by WildLife SOS, an NGO .
After the formal inauguration, chief guest K. Praveen Rao, Additional Principal Chief Conservator in Uttar Pradesh Forest Department, congratulated the NGO for its effort.
“These elephants suffered from a very disturbed past and Wildlife SOS has given them the opportunity to enjoy the life that they truly deserved,” Rao said.
The Wildlife SOS Elephant Memorial symbolizes the sacrifice of the gentle giants, which lost their lives while suffering brutality at the hands of humans.
Most elephants used in circuses and for tourist rides are captured from the wild and are forced to undergo a lifetime of misery. The memorial with stone boulders and engraved black granite plaques names some of the elephants which suffered this fate.
Arnita Sandilya, a spokesperson for WildLife SOS, said, “Historically, animals have played a significant role alongside soldiers and police officers, which is why memorials exist around the world for horses, dogs and elephants recognizing their sacrifices.
“Each memorial is a touching tribute to the animals who served humans and laid down their lives for them. One of the oldest elephant memorials was established in 1885 in the US in the memory of Jumbo, an elephant which was tragically killed in a train accident.”
The Elephant Memorial in Mathura remembers Champa, Sita, Mohan, Lakhi and Luna, whose stories draw attention to the plight of captive elephants in India and underline why it is critical to prevent other elephants from suffering a similar fate.
The memorial consists of five boulders, each with engraved plaques to commemorate the spirit of the departed elephants.
Anand Kumar, Divisional Conservator of Forests, said that elephants are important elements of India’s culture and tradition, which are on the brink of extinction.
Kartick Satyanarayan, co-founder and CEO, Wildlife SOS, said, “Despite being revered as ‘avatars’ of Lord Ganesha, elephants suffer great pain and abuse throughout their lives. Rescued elephants find peace and comfort at the Elephant Conservation and Care Centre. Through this memorial, we aim to create a calm and peaceful area as a tribute to the elephants.”

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