I am Kartick Satyanarayan, co-founder of Wildlife SOS in India. My team and I recently rescued Raju the elephant, who had endured 50 years of cruelty. "The elephant who cried" is now safe in our care. Ask me anything.
Jul 19th 2014 by WildlifeSOS • 29 Questions • 3230 Points
Hello, reddit. We at Wildlife SOS were INCREDIBLY inspired to see your community's response to our work, in particular the saving of Raju the Elephant. I co-founded Wildlife SOS in 1995 to help drive lasting change to protect and conserve India's natural heritage, forests and wildlife wealth. We have helped save the last of the dancing bears in India, for example, in addition to our work with elephants like Raju. You can learn more about our work on our official site here. I am looking forward to taking your questions, so AMA."
Thank you all so much for taking the time to come ask me questions and learn about what Wildlife SOS does to protect animals in India. Your support is deeply appreciated. On behalf of Raju and all the animals we protect, we thank you. For further information please feel free to send an email on [email protected]
Do the animals you rescue have trust issues with humans since they have been mistreated their entire life? How do you combat these trust issues?
Yes, the animals we rescue often have serious trust issues. It takes a long time and a lot of patience to rebuild the trust with these animals. Quite often it means we have to be very careful with our tones and behave very cautiously in the presence of these animals who have been traumatised so they disassociate their past trauma with their present situation and current environment. It is however easier said than done! You can read some of our rescue stories on www.wildlifesos.org and on www.facebook.com/wildlifesosindia
What are some of the hardest challenges you face when trying to save wildlife?
The hardest challenges when trying to save wildlife is to manage a mob especially when its a human wildlife conflict situation. And then theres the challenge with financial resources that we need to find to help save and protect wildlife
Was there any punishment dealt to the people who were responsible?
We will be initiating legal action against the people who were responsible and are putting together a legal fund to support the legal appeal we plan to proceed with against the previous custodians of Raju who caused him this suffering!
I myself am from a small village which lives in a rain forest. I have seen the destruction first hand of logging company's. They have destroyed my mothers home and have been in a court battle over the rights of the land since 2001. My question is, how did you manage to start your foundation and overcome your difficulties? Sometimes as a young person, I feel like there is nothing I can do to help?
Dont ever Give up! Believe in yourself and you must be prepared for the long haul, a little sacrifice and frustration. You will succeed.
yes, There is a long wish list that we need for Raju. We need Diesel Generators to fill his pond with fresh water, a tractor & a trolley to get him fresh fodder, Darting equipment, Medicines, Medical equipment like a mobile ultrasound, intravenous fluids, deep freeze for supplies, refrigerator for medicines etc. I can email a list to you if you can email me on [email protected]
There are several ways to help Raju and the nine other rescued elephants who are now part of his family. Make a monthly pledge to support Wildlife SOS on https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/raju Other ways are to volunteer with Wildlife SOS and help us with the elephants hands on. Volunteer applications are received on our email [email protected] with subject line - volunteer
Hi! Thank you for all that you do. I very much admire your work. I have always been interested in wildlife rescue. I got my undergrad in wildlife management and a masters in conservation biology. I had hoped to be a wildlife rescuer, but was not able to find any career opportunities in it (even very few internships). I now work in large breed dog rescue and ADORE what I do, but would someday still love to work with wildlife. How did you get started in the work that you do?
I started my wildlife career working on a tiger ecology status survey project across several National Parks in India. I started Wildlife SOS in 1995 with another co founder who was equally passionate about the cause. Im sure we could find you an internship in India if you are still interested. Send us an email to [email protected]
how come it took 50 years in captivity. Was raju that well hidden by the owner?
Yes, Raju was well hidden and used in extremely rural areas along the Indo nepal border. His situation was reported to us when he was noticed by forest officers in Allahabad city in Uttar Pradesh
Hello Kartick, thank you for doing this AmA.
Firstly, Have you ever had a rescue go wrong? If so, what happened?
Secondly, what aspect of your job is the hardest? Maybe some things you have had to come to terms with or particular challenges?
Finally, thank you very much for your contributions and for what you do.
Thank you. Im delighted to be able to connect with the Reddit community. Working with people is the hardest challenge and working with the animals is of course the easiest and the most fulfilling. We had a bear rescue in a state next to Delhi that went terribly wrong and put our team at severe risk. We have also had anti poaching operations that have gone terribly wrong and i have found myself staring at the barrel of an automatic weapon! Thankfully we had police backup and escaped with our life by the skin of our teeth!
What do you think is the best way to balance between the poor villagers' needs for survivorship and the conservation of threatened species? Eco-tourism has always been touted as the panacea but from what I gather, the revenue is less than expected in many places where it has been implemented.
The best way to balance poor villagers needs for survivorship and conservation of threatened species is to use a sustainable model to improve the quality of life of the communities that are forest or wildlife dependant. Wildlife SOS has been working extensively with indigenous communities who have been traditional hunters and dependant on wildlife for their livelihoods. 40% of Wildlife SOS staff belong to these communities. Today, a lot of our wildlife rescue staff are former poachers. Here are two examples of how Wildlife SOS works with communities in a sustainable manner
I heard that keeping elephant bulls can be very dangerous. How do you handle them, compared to the females? Do you have to separate them from other male elephants? And what happens when they are in musth?
Thank you for your answer and all the great work you do for animals!
Managing bull elephants is certainly a lot more complex than managing cow elephants. When they are in musth they need privacy, quiet and very careful and gentle handing. However we have learnt that with the right kind of management, you can manage bulls in musth also without too much trouble. Exercising them during musth is the challenge. To address this Wildlife SOS is working to buy land for expanding our elephant center. It costs us about 50,000$ per acre and we need at least 10 acres to address this issue immediately. So we need about 500,000$ for securing the land for the elephants. This can help us manage the bull elephants in a much better way.
What is Raju's health condition presently, are you confident of his recovery? Does he need surgery on his wounds?
Yes, we are confident of Raju's recovery. But it will take a long time. He may require surgery at some point of time. His legs which were subjected to chaining, spearing and spiking are infected and filled with puss. We do need a lot of medicines and medical equipment in addition to his water therapy pool which will help him take the weight off of his legs to help him rest his legs.
In the first year we would need a minimum of about 100,000 $ USD to provide for Raju's care. Of course this includes the infrastructure required for his shelter, pool etc. From year two onwards we would not require the infrastructure but he will still cost us around 50,000$ to 60,000$ a year. This includes his medical care, feeding, long term maintenance, enrichment. From our observation it looks like Raju may have special needs to help him recover from his past trauma. We do need some medical equipment like an ultrasound and some other equipment for his treatment.
How long did it take to plan out the whole rescue operation?
It took us several weeks to plan the rescue operation. There was legal paper work we need to secure for his custody which also took us almost a year before we could start planning the rescue operation itself
Will you be setting up a specific page for Raju where people can make donations or see the list you mentioned?
Here is a specific page where people can make donations to help Raju and make a monthly pledge https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/raju Other ways are to volunteer with Wildlife SOS and help us with the elephants hands on. Volunteer applications are received on our email [email protected] with subject line - volunteer Im not sure how to attach a list in Reddit :-) Pls email us on [email protected] and we shall send you the wish list. We will also be putting a wish list on our website shortly.