The Awful Night Poachers Broke Into An African Wildlife Orphanage And Pumped Bullets Into Two Baby Rhinos To Hack Off Their Tiny Horns

In Memory of Impi and Gugu who were killed in the raid.

Françoise Malby-Anthony, who founded the Thula Thula game reserve in 1998 with her late husband, the renowned conservationist and internationally bestselling author Lawrence Anthony recalls the awful night that poachers attacked her Rhino orphanage on the 27th of February 2017

THE NIGHT POACHERS ATTACKED A RHINO ORPHANAGE

“Living alone on a vast African game reserve is not for the faint-hearted. And that night, even after 17 years in the wilderness, I felt a strange sense of unease.

It was 2am . White flashes of lightning were lighting up my bedroom. Thunder cracked like gunshots. As I stroked my dog, Gypsy, trying to reassure her, I suddenly realised that the phone was ringing.

‘Hello?’ I mumbled.

‘The orphanage has been hit. They shot two rhinos and attacked the volunteers.’

I sat bolt upright. Hit? Shot? Attacked? I couldn’t process the words.

I’d created the animal orphanage just a year before in order to fill a desperate need. Increasingly, poachers had been targeting adult rhinos for their horns — to sell to the Far East for useless traditional potions.

Any defenceless babies, whose horns had yet to grow, were left to die in the bush. Or if they were found in time, they were brought to my orphanage.

On that very night, I knew that four animal-mad girl volunteers and a permanent carer were providing intensive nursing for six vulnerable baby rhinos and a young hippo.

IMPI WITH ONE OF HIS CARERS

Panic-stricken, I ran to my general manager’s cottage and banged on the door.

‘Lynda! It’s me! Open up!’ I yelled, shivering in the rain. ‘Poachers at the orphanage. I’ll never manage the roads in this weather. We need your 4×4.’

She saw the horror on my face and asked no questions. ‘Give me five minutes.’ The rain smacked our faces as we sprinted to her car.

We crept along the dirt track leading to the orphanage, struggling to see, not speaking, hearts hammering. What would we find?

The men who slash rhinos’ faces for their horns are utterly barbaric — far beyond the conception of my trusting young volunteers. One wrong move or word, and an agitated lunatic could well have killed the girls.

Slowly, painfully slowly, we struggled through the downpour. As we arrived at the orphanage, one of my anti-poaching guards ran out.

‘What were you thinking, driving here on your own?’ he burst out. ‘The attackers could still be in the reserve! Quick. Get under cover.’

I stared at him. ‘Is anyone hurt?’ I asked. He nodded, grim-faced, and took us inside . . .

Baby rhinos don’t run. They half-bounce, half-fly as they hurtle towards you with an inquisitive look on their soft faces.

Or so I discovered when I first met Thabo, who’d been a terrified newborn when he was found, his umbilical cord still dragging below him in the dust. His mother had almost certainly been killed by poachers, and it was a miracle he’d survived even a day on his own.

Now Thabo was two months old, and had just arrived from a reserve that could no longer keep him. He nestled his snout gently against my leg — and I melted.

THABO

I’d just agreed to give him a permanent home on the land that my husband and I had bought in South Africa, intending to turn it into a game reserve that would keep animals safe from poachers.

We called it Thula Thula — Zulu for ‘quiet’. Within a few years, we’d built a game lodge, started taking in paying guests and had adopted an entire herd of wild elephants — though no rhinos.

But that was about to change: as I stroked Thabo, I knew with absolute certainty what needed to happen next. I was going to create a haven where orphaned rhinos could heal after their trauma.

That was back in 2011. By the time I’d raised enough funds and rhino-proofed an existing building, my husband Lawrence had died tragically young of a heart attack.

For a long time after I lost him, I lurched from one crisis to the next, never feeling anything was under control. Even small decisions felt overwhelming at first, but creating the orphanage gave me a focus, a reason to get up every day.

LAWRENCE ANTHONY

There was so much at stake. If the heating fails in our game lodge, we might get a bad rating on TripAdvisor, but the guests won’t die. A heating failure in the orphanage’s high-care ward, on the other hand, will soon kill a baby rhino.

Our first call came in April 2015. An anti-poaching unit had just found the carcass of an adult female rhino, with her horn hacked off, but no sign of her calf. Would we take it in if they could track it down? By running away, the six-month old calf had at least avoided being butchered for the tiny horn beginning to grow on his head. With rhino horn fetching £68,000 per kilo on the Far Eastern market, the poachers would have killed him for every gram they could get.

By the time Ithuba was traced, it was a week since his mother had died. Heavily sedated when he arrived, he was covered in infected tick bites and close to death. That first night, he was put on a drip and slept peacefully — but the second night was hell.

It was as if he was going through all the trauma of the past week — his mother’s murder, being transported in a clanging trailer and then finding himself in a strange room with two-legged animals who looked just like the ones who’d killed his mother.

The mere sight of his carers sent him careering around his room in panic — and 200 kilos of agitated rhino can do a lot of damage to a pair of human legs. His high-pitched squeals of terror pierced every corner of the orphanage.

Eventually, we persuaded him to drink milk from a bottle. Then colic struck and nightmares. He’d shiver and jerk about in his sleep; on waking, he’d spin around his room in panic, flinging himself against the walls.

‘What Ithuba’s going through isn’t unusual,’ the vet assured us. ‘People think post-traumatic stress is only experienced by humans, but his emotional recovery is going to be far more complicated than his physical recovery.’

It’s heartbreakingly hard to comfort traumatised animals, but our carers did it with infinite patience and affection. Slowly, Ithuba began to understand they weren’t like the people who’d hurt his mother.

I’ll never forget the day when I saw him trotting happily next to Axel, an easygoing young French carer. Ithuba kept bumping into his leg, as if to reassure himself that he wasn’t alone any more.

Another huge step was the revival of his curiosity. Rejecting other toys, Ithuba homed in on anything made out of tyre, including his food bowl which was a home-made tyre contraption. He’d tip it over, throw out the food, fling the bowl about until it started rolling, then run after it. Finally, he’d balance it on his head, preening and strutting like a dressage horse.

BFFs: The two baby rhinos, Thabo and Ntombi, were soon inseparable

Yet for a long time, he also continued to have panic attacks. He’d be playing happily, then he’d suddenly squeal in fright, latch onto a corner of his carer’s sleeve and suckle it — rather like a baby sucks its thumb.

Slowly, however, his insecurity faded — and his appetite exploded. By the time he was nine months old, he’d doubled his weight and turned into a happy little rhino tank who’d soon be starting a new life in the wild.

The next rhino calf delivered to the orphanage had also lost his mother to poachers. He’d stood by his mother’s body for six days, desperately tugging at her decaying teats while vultures tore her flesh. How do you even start to console a little creature who’s been through that?

Megan, a fresh-faced young British girl, remained with Impi for his entire first night as he ran round and round in circles, crying non-stop, too terrified to sleep, desperate to find his mother.

‘I kept talking to him,’ she said. ‘I told him what had happened to him, that he was safe with us, that there was another baby rhino just like him called Ithuba, and that I was sure they would be friends.

‘He eventually came up to stand silently at my knees. He looked so lost. I longed to take him in my arms to comfort him but I didn’t dare move in case I frightened him. Then he collapsed at my feet and fell asleep.’

Within three days, however, little Impi was on the mend. Ravenously hungry, he’d indignantly head-butt his carers if his bottle wasn’t ready when he wanted it.

One morning, Megan was on her hands and knees giving the floor a good scrub when she felt two little eyes boring into her. Impi edged closer and nestled his chin on her shoulder. And there it stayed, as he shuffled along to keep pace with Megan’s movements.

Some calves are boisterous and belligerent, but not Impi. He was a tender little creature who was afraid of everything and hated being left alone.

Like Ithuba, he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, and unfamiliar sounds — even a bird’s squawk — would send him fleeing, squealing in panic.

Nights were a terrible struggle. No matter how exhausted he was, he didn’t feel safe enough to lie down until a volunteer had started reading him a book. Then he’d quietly nestle on the hay next to her, burrow his head into her legs and fall into the deepest sleep.

Ithuba, meanwhile, wasn’t happy about losing his pampered role as the only rhino at the orphanage — and particularly jealous when he realised that Impi was in his old room. Again and again, he charged the barrier to get in; only the sound of Axel rolling a tyre behind him managed to distract the cross little rhino.

The next orphan to arrive was Thando, who’d been discovered neck-deep in mud and unable to move. There was no sign of his mother.

It took five men to pull Thando out of the mud, and there were whoops of delight when they saw he was strong enough to stand.

The DIFFERENCE in Thando’s behaviour from that of the other two rhinos was startling. Rather than being petrified when he woke up in a strange room surrounded by humans, he was merely stroppy.

Happily, he hadn’t had to witness his mother being hacked to death, nor had he been on his own in the wilderness for nights on end. As a result, he very quickly became one of the orphanage’s most laid-back little rhinos.

Eventually we decided that Impi and Thando should meet, as they were similar ages. So, one overcast summer’s afternoon, we left the doors and barriers to their rooms open at feeding time. The carers hovered out of sight nearby.

Impi, usually such a timid little rhino, immediately charged at Thando, who didn’t so much as blink. Baffled by this non-reaction, Impi skidded to a halt and stared at him.

After a lot of posturing and strutting on both sides, they headed inside and flopped down on a mattress, their stumpy little legs entwined. From then on, they were best friends, constantly cuddling up or practising charging techniques on each other.

Another successful pairing was between Charlie, a baby hippo found alone in a river, terrified of water, and a newborn rhino called Makhosi, abandoned because he was too tiny to reach his mother’s teats. As both were under a week old, we put them in the same room.

Amazingly, Makhosi scampered straight up to the hippo. For his part, Charlie swayed his big head from side to side in greeting and reached his snout towards her.

First, they exchanged interested noisy snuffles. Then Makhosi lowered her head and Charlie gently chomped her ears. Finally, the tiny rhino clambered onto the hippo’s mattress, nuzzled up against him and fell fast asleep.

WILD ENCOUNTERS

After that, they trotted everywhere together, demanded to be fed at the same time, and cuddled up whenever they needed warmth or reassurance.

When Charlie’s teeth started to cut through, his gums became sore and inflamed, and he lost his appetite. His rhino friend knew just what to do: she comforted him with gentle nudges, then fell asleep each night with her snout touching his.

Charlie, the baby hippo who was scared of water standing bravely in his paddling pool with pal Makhosi close by

More orphans were now flooding in. Nandi, our first black rhino, was another newborn whose mother had been killed. She was afraid of the dark and wouldn’t go to sleep without a blanket tucked tightly around her.

If it slid off, she squealed until her carer woke up and tucked her back in again. What a little princess!

Then there was Storm, who’d probably been rejected by his mother. He had so many parasites that we almost lost him.

And finally there was Gugu, a healthy rhino calf who wanted nothing to do with her carers. It was her choice to drink from a bucket rather than a bottle — anything to keep humans at bay.

When she first saw Impi and Thando, however, she broke out into high-pitched calls of delight. And as for Ithuba, our original rhino calf, he became the love of her life.

Poor Ithuba was so much older than the others that we had to keep him in a separate enclosure. Undeterred, Gugu would spend hours walking out with her strapping neighbour, each keeping pace with the other on either side of the fence.

ITHUBA WITH KAREN TRENDLER

By the start of 2016, our baby rhinos were all thriving and protected by round-the-clock security guards. It made no difference.

On the terrible rain-lashed night that poachers attacked the animal orphanage, I arrived to find our terrified girl volunteers huddled together in an office. One of them had only been with us for a few hours, her dream of working with orphaned animals now a savage nightmare.

Slowly, as they sobbed and cried, I started piecing together what had happened.

Just as the team had finished the first evening feed, five heavily armed men had breached the fence, disabling cameras and cutting cables as they crept towards our security guard. Two of them had attacked him from behind and tied him up.

THE DODO’S HEADLINE OF THE ATTACK

Then they waited, patient predators, biding their time until the next feed. Axel, the only staff member there that night, had gone to bed while the two girls on feeding duty chatted and laughed as they prepared bottles for the hippo and the rhino calves.

Suddenly, they were ambushed by the poachers, and shoved into a locked office. At gunpoint, Axel was roused and forced to round up the rest of the volunteers.

‘Where are the rhino horns?’ the attackers kept asking. Needless to say, we didn’t have any, but Axel was beaten and one of the girls was severely assaulted.

THE HUFFPOST’S HEADLINE OF THE ATTACK

The poachers must have known that Gugu and Impi — now our oldest rhinos at the orphanage — were due to leave soon. And that meant they’d already have stubby little horns.

While three men guarded the youngsters, two others, armed with guns and an axe, headed for the calves. They pumped bullets into Gugu and Impi for horns no bigger than a child’s fist.

RIP GUGU

Gugu died instantly, sweet Impi didn’t. The poachers didn’t give a damn. They held him down and hacked his face with the axe.

Were they disconcerted by his terrified expression? Superstitions run deep in rural Zululand, where it’s thought that eyes have memories. So the poachers did the unthinkable — they poked out Impi’s eyes.

Half an hour later, the men and their bounty were gone.

Meanwhile, the guard in the storeroom had escaped and was running barefoot through the reserve to raise the alarm. Petrified of being caught, he avoided roads and tore through the bush in the pitch dark, shredding his feet in the process.

To this day, I can’t bear to think about Impi and the anguish of his carers. They’d hand-raised him, and there was nothing they could do to ease his terror and pain.

Impi was euthanised as soon as our vet arrived. The tragedy was that both calves had been days away from becoming wild rhinos again.

The next 24 hours are a blur. I have flashes of memory: the ashen faces of the girls, the explosive racket of the storm, the atrocity of Impi’s injuries, the chaos in my heart.

For a while, I lost faith in mankind. I lost hope in saving rhinos.

Demand for their horns will never stop; they’ll always be in danger, as will the men and women who risk their lives guarding them.

What I do remember with profound gratitude is the phone call from Megan, the British girl who’d helped look after Impi and Gugu. Now back home, she offered to start a campaign to pay for improving the orphanage’s security.

Donations flooded in from all over the world. The outpouring of love and concern was incredible: more than £45,000 was raised.

The cash has paid for more round-the-clock armed guards and extra protection for staff during night feeds. We’ve also upgraded our entire security system.

Additional anti poaching team and extra armed security

Update 2/23: Two male suspects have now been arrested for the killing of two baby rhinos and the assault of the staff at Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage, according to SA people. The men are apparently part of a “notorious gang,” and they were heavily armed when police found them.

This true account comes for Françoise’s beautiful book An Elephant In My Kitchen.

Françoise Malby-Anthony ~ An Elephant In MY kitchen

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CHARITY APPEAL TO HELP BUILD THE FIRST CENTRE IN THE UK FOR DISABLED ANIMALS

As thousands of disabled animals are put to sleep across the UK, animal welfare charity Miracle’s Mission is looking for help to build the UK’s first centre for disabled animals – where they can be rehabilitated before finding their forever homes.

Victoria Bryceson, founder of Miracle’s Mission, says that countless disabled dogs are euthanased unnecessarily, despite the fact they could have a good quality of life with the right physical therapy and prosthetics.

She says, “At the moment amputation of one leg is common practice with UK vets, as dogs can live very well and still be very active with three legs, especially if it is a back leg, as most of the weight is on the front legs.

“However, when it comes to a double amputation leaving the dog with two legs, the general vets that I have seen in the UK have said it’s definitely not possible to do this as the dogs won’t be left with a good quality of life.”

As thousands of disabled animals are put to sleep across the UK, animal welfare charity Miracle’s Mission is looking for help to build the UK’s first centre for disabled animals – where they can be rehabilitated before finding their forever homes.

Many people may not be aware that dogs who have wheels and prosthetics can live as good a life as a fully able bodied dogs – much like Ella, who was found wandering the streets of Egypt, paralysed from the back down after being thrown off the top of a building.

Miracles’ Mission brought her to the UK, giving her a second chance. A wheelchair for dogs was made so she could get around, and soon Ella was running around with other dogs, living life to the fullest. Victoria is looking to let owners know that their disabled dogs could live happily, too, if only given a chance.

She adds, “The specialist hospitals seem more open to it as they have more experience in the area, but even they have problems where most of their dogs in these conditions are euthanased – not because they need to be but because, in their words, it is the owners of the dogs who can’t cope with the thought of a two legged dog. So there is a huge need for education in this area, amongst the public, dog owners and vets.

“General practice vets that have seen my journey with double amputee dogs have said that they have had a huge education on disabled animals and they can now see the possibilities and potential of a disabled dog. They are now much more open to using wheels and prosthetics. Dogs using wheels and prosthetics can live as good a life as a fully able-bodied dog and this is what I want to show people.

“I was stopped so many times when I was with a double amputee dog, to ask about her wheels as people hadn’t seen them before. They told me stories about their dogs back legs deteriorating and they thought the only option was euthanasia, but now they would look into wheels.”

The new centre will provide dedicated care for the most vulnerable dogs and cats. Animals under its care will receive thorough veterinary assessments, MRIs, surgeries, the fitting of prosthetics, and doggy wheels. Their personalised rehabilitation plan will include physiotherapy and hydrotherapy as well as daily massage and TENS machine stimulation.

Victoria says, “The animals coming into our care will initially all be stray dogs with nowhere else to go and no one else to help them. They will either have been born with some sort of condition, such as a bent leg that they can’t walk on or they will have been in an accident – for example hit by a car or they will have been abused.”

Once the patients have been emotionally and physically rehabilitated as much as possible, Miracle’s Mission get to work to find them all forever homes.

Victoria explains, “We will offer a full rehabilitation programme right through from assessment to surgery to rehabilitation, recovery and re-homing. This is again why education is so important, so that people become open to adopting disabled dogs.

“If we don’t re-home the dogs the centre will be full on day one and then we won’t be able to help anymore, so it is really desperately needed that the dogs be re-homed.”

There already is a waiting list of disabled dogs, but Victoria cannot accept them until she is able to finance the centre.  She is currently crowd funding to raise £20,000 to secure a deposit for the centre, which if secured will be built in Yorkshire in 2020.

If you’d like more information get in touch by writing to info@miraclesmission.org

Paul Christian, founder of Protect All Wildlife and Patron of Miracle’s Mission.

Images by Andrew Price

Please help Miracle’s Mission by donating ANY amount, large or small here.

The Story Of A Tragic Wolf Called ‘Romeo’ Who Loved Too Much And Deserved Much Better

ROMEO

On a twilit night in Juneau, Alaska, in December 2003, and Nick and Sherrie Jans were walking with Dakotah, their yellow Lab, in the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area not far from their house. Suddenly, a young black wolf appeared on the ice—and began running in their direction. Awestruck but scared, the couple watched as Dakotah broke loose and charged the predator, which was twice the size of the dog. The animals stopped yards apart and gazed at each other “as if each were glimpsing an almost-forgotten face and trying to remember,” recalled Jans. After a few moments, Dakotah ran back to her owners, and the three hurried home, listening to the wolf howl

The locals named him Romeo, and soon his presence was noted by the entire town. Most found it fascinating that Romeo was so friendly, while others assumed that this naturally predatory animal would give into his natural instincts at any moment, potentially attacking their pets and children.

During this time Nick Jans started documenting Romeo. When he did, he uncovered an emotional story, the heart of which describes the tenuous relationships between wild animals and the humans around them.

“The first thing I saw was tracks out on the lake in front of our house on the outskirts of Juneau,” Jans said in an interview with National Geographic. “A few days later, I looked out from my house and there was this wolf out on the ice. I’d had 20 years of experience around wolves up in the Arctic and immediately knew it was a wolf, not a dog. I threw on my skis and found him.”

ROMEO

According to Jans, Romeo seemed totally relaxed and friendly.

And it wasn’t just one interaction, either: Romeo remained his curious, friendly self for the better part of six years.

“For want of a better word,” Jans said, “The only thing I can say from a human perspective is that it amounted to friendship. If you wanted to be scientifically correct, it would be “social mutual tolerance.” But it was more than that. The wolf would come trotting over to say hi, and give a little bow and a relaxed yawn, and go trotting after us when we went skiing. There was no survival benefit. He obviously just enjoyed our company.”

Romeo’s behavior was definitely unusual, as many wolves tend to assert dominance by attacking dogs and other animals.

he wolf got his name because Jans and his family noticed how Romeo was kind of a flirt — particularly with their “Juliet,” a dog named Dakotah. Here, they’re standing nose-to-nose in what seems to be an all-too-perfect photo moment.

lifebuzz-58ac1a0bf3848e6b7025ad6bdb8fb768-limit_2000

Romeo survived for years despite many mortal threats: scented traps, busy roads, illegal hunting, and even a poisoning attempt. He also had to contend with the natural dangers of starvation, injury, and attack by another pack of wolves. By almost any standard, his prolonged proximity to humans and dogs constituted incredibly rare behaviour. There was no obvious survival benefit to his socializing, yet the wolf lingered persistently, a late echo of the original process that must have initiated the domestication of dogs.

Romeo stayed in the area for as long as he lived — and he lived three times longer than most wild wolves do.

“Romeo was the single most transformative event of my life,” Jans said. “The amazing thing was Romeo’s understanding. It wasn’t just our understanding and tolerance. It was the combination of his and ours and the dogs’. We were these three species working out how to get along harmoniously. And we did.”

What happened to Romeo?                                                                                                   Romeo disappeared in late September 2009. After some sleuthing, a supporter found he had been shot and killed by Juneau resident Park Myers III and his Pennsylvanian friend Jeff Peacock. Both men were arrested and ended up paying fines, serving a few years on probation, and losing hunting and fishing privileges for a limited time. In late November 2010, a memorial service was held for Romeo and this plaque was laid along a path where he once roamed.

“Nothing can take away the miracle that was Romeo and the years we spent in his company,” writes Jans. “Love, not hate, is the burden we carry.”

Nick Jans’ beautiful account of his unusual relationship is now in a book called A Wolf Called Romeo.

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This Is Why You Should Never Ride On The Back Of An Elephant If You Are Travelling In Asia

Elephant rides are an attraction regularly offered to tourists in several Asian countries including Thailand. But to get there, the animals undergo a very particular training that is actually akin to real torture.

Between 35 and 40,000, is the number of wild Elephants that remain in Asia, according to estimates. A figure to which should be added the more than 15,000 domesticated Elephants. If you go to Asia one day, you will certainly meet these majestic pachyderms with big ears. You may even be asked to ride on their backs for a ride.

This attraction attracts millions of tourists every year in Asia, especially in Thailand. Nevertheless, it hides a reality that few tourists are aware of: to get there, the animals suffer a real torture. If the words can seem strong, they are not, as all those who have seen with their eyes what is really happening. Indeed, to be trained, Elephants undergo a ritual called “phajaan”.

The principle is simple: “break the spirit” of the Elephant. As two globetrotters, Seth and Lise, explain, “the origin of phajaan comes from the ancestral belief that one can separate the mind of an Elephant from its body so that it loses its reflexes and instinct natural wilderness and be completely under the control of man “. Concretely, it is to submit the Elephant until he agrees to do everything asked of him.

Beaten, hungry and sleep-deprived

From a practical point of view, it is only by using violence that the trainers achieve it. Phajaan lasts between 4 and 6 days and is carried out on young Elephants. The animals are separated from their mothers and locked in narrow cages where they are chained. Without being able to struggle or even move a limb, they are then repeatedly hit in strategic places, the most sensitive.

THE PHAJAAN

In addition to being beaten, Elephants are kept awake, deprived of food and water under the eyes of trainers (“mahout”) who recite prayers that can be translated as “Elephant, if you stop fighting, we do not you’ll hurt more, “says a documentary. The torture does not stop until after several days, when the trainers believe that the spirit of the Elephant is broken, that his behaviour has changed.

The Bullhook

Out of his cage, the animal appears submissive, impressed by the fear of the man who subjected him to this torture. Then begins a real training that will consist in teaching the Elephant all the necessary commands or gestures intended to amuse the tourists. Once the specimen is formed, it can be used as an attraction for most of its life.

50% of Elephants die during the ritual

It is estimated that half of the Elephants would not survive phajaan. Others would become aggressive: about 100 mahouts are killed each year by their animals. Still others would go insane or have trouble with their experience, rendering them unusable for attractions. Most would then be killed.

The surviving Elephants are used to wander among the tourists, to beg or for work. In order for them to remain submissive, they are given a few booster shots by hitting them or pressing the sensitive spots again. In tourism, an Elephant can spend the day carrying people without a minute to rest, eat or drink. The rest of the time, most animals are tied up so that they are not dangerous.

WHEN NOT BEING EXPLOITED BY TOURISTS THE ELEPHANTS ARE CHAINED

A life that would often lead to the appearance of disorders including neurological. “If you ever have a chance to spot domestic Elephants, watch them,” Seth and Lise explain. “Chance or not, all the Elephants we’ve seen had signs of recent abuse, scars, obvious signs of poor health, some are more damaged than others, and it’s extremely rare to see one of these well-treated animals. “.

“It is largely because of tourists that this business works, so it is up to tourists to make the right decisions. The future and especially the well-being of thousands of Elephants is at stake,” they conclude in their blog.

Seth & Lise: To Make Elephants Attractions In Thailand … What Is Hidden From Tourists? 

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Two-Legged Street Dog That Was Shot In The Head Lives To Tell The Tale And Now LOVES Life.

AMIRA WHEN SHE WAS RESCUED

A two-legged street dog from Thailand that was shot in the head and left to die has been rescued by a Canadian family – and now even has her own wheelchair. Lara Pleasence, 51, from Montreal, Canada, first heard about Amira’s tragic story through the Soi Dog Foundation, based in Asia. Administrator and personal trainer Lara first saw Amira in a video posted by the rescue centre in Thailand in October 2020. “This poor dog who was born without legs, lived on the streets having litter after litter, then after nine years of struggling to survive, someone shoots her in the head,” Lara told Jam Press. “I just broke down and cried.”

Amira was treated for her head wound by the Soi Dog rescue centre who shared regular updates of her progress on social media. “Sweet Amira was always wagging her tail; it just broke my heart that she still trusted humans even after everything she’d been through. “I knew I had to contact the rescue to see if I could help in any way, maybe even offer to be her forever family, although they doubted that she would ever be well enough to travel.” After a tense wait, the Soi Dog Foundation contacted Lara to tell her that Amira had recovered enough to be put up for adoption. “I was so stoked and so worried about what my husband was going to say, since we already had three dogs,” Lara admitted. “There was something about Amira, this incredible connection I felt for her from the very first time I saw her. “I wanted to right all the wrongs that were done to her, I just felt compelled to try. “I wanted desperately to show her all the love, security, happiness that she deserved, that every dog deserves, and that this poor sweetie had been denied for so many years.”

AMIRA’S LOVING AND LIVING LIFE TO THE FULL

To qualify to adopt Amira, Lara and her family had to go through a strict application procedure – including a virtual home visit, interview process and form-filling. “I was made aware that we would have to pay for her to be flown to Canada since, because of Covid, they didn’t have travellers who could take her on the plane for free.” “I think I would have mortgaged the house to get this sweet girl here.” When Amira touched down in Montreal in April 2021 after a 22-hour journey – which cost $2,000 – it was love at first sight. Lara said: “My husband was none too happy about even the idea of another dog since we already had three, but I told him that I had never felt this way about any rescues that I had seen. “I was so excited that we were getting her, I was practically bursting, and he knew that fighting it was a lost cause – happy wife, happy life.” Amira came with her wheelchair, after a man in Vietnam made a custom one for her and it was gifted to the pup by Soi Dog. “She literally came bouncing out of her crate and jumped all over us like the happiest kangaroo you’ve ever seen.” “She’d been in it for over 22 hours and didn’t even have an accident!” “We couldn’t believe the joy she exudes.

She is a true miracle. After everything she’s been through, Amira is fun-loving and outgoing. “She’s so trusting, she loves everyone she meets. “She absolutely loves to be held in your lap and will sleep there for as long as you will let her. “She is resilient and doesn’t let her past hold her back from trying new things or doing something a bit scary like canoeing or going on our paddleboard. “She is obsessed with our bed… If we’re not home, we have to block the stairs because we can’t risk her falling. “How a street dog, with no front legs, knows how to climb stairs is just one of Amira’s many mysteries. “She’ll let me kiss her nose 50 times in a row, my other three dogs will eventually pull their head away, but not Miss Amira, she loves it. “She gets these crazy puppy moments where she runs around on her nubs and jumps up on the furniture then flies right back off it. “These moments make my heart smile because it’s like she finally doesn’t have a care in the world and can just be a dog. “No more struggling for food or to keep her puppies safe and fed or hiding from bad people.”

AMIRA IN HER WHEELS

Now, Amira enjoys a happy life spending her days with her family and playing at her favourite spot. Lara added: “She loves going to the dog park, even though many of the dogs get freaked out by the “transformer dog” with wheels and just bark at her.”

FROM STREET DOG TO CRUISING THE STREETS

In videos posted to Instagram (@amira.amiracle), Lara shares Amira’s adventures with her new set of wheels. In one comical clip, which has been viewed over 725,000 times, Amira runs after a cat and ends up doing a headstand when she hits a curb. “She just waits for me to pick her back up and she keeps on going like it’s no big deal,” said Lara. Another video shows her gradually getting better at walking in a straight line with her wheels. Followers of Amira’s page are in love with the pup, and she regularly receives gushing comments. One person commented: “So beautiful to see this! You’re amazing, sweet and strong Amira.” “Love u Amira very much,” said another viewer. “She’s amazing and you’re amazing with her,” added another person. Lara is grateful for all the support and says she is touched by the comments she receives. “The people who follow Amira on Instagram are the sweetest,” she said. “They are so happy that she has a family that loves her now. “Some say Amira’s posts are their daily dose of ‘good feels’ or that her videos are ‘good for the soul’. “People feel they need to thank me for taking her, which is so kind, but I always tell them that it is my privilege to give her the best life that I possibly can,” “It’s the least I can do for such an angel. “I can only hope that her page may inspire someone else to help a special needs dog or donate to an organisation like Soi Dog Foundation so they can continue their amazing work.”

CHARITY AUCTION TO HELP DISABLED ANIMALS

This is your chance to bid on beautiful original artworks and signed memorabilia in our ‘Charity Auction To Help Disabled Animals’.

This is a sealed bid auction, so all you need to do is decide which item you would like to bid for – noting the reserve price for each – and send us your bid with the lot number and name by email to protectallwildlife@btinternet.com by 21:00 on the 17th of April . We will email you to let you know if your bid is the highest. Postage costs will be calculated when the auction ends. Good luck!

All funds raised help support the Miracle’s Mission Centre for Disabled Animals and their work in the rescue, treatment and rehoming of sick, injured and disabled animals .

Happy bidding and good luck 🐾.

Lot 1

This signed After Life image has been very kindly donated by animal welfare great Ricky Gervais.

Reserve £100

RICKY GERVAIS AFTER LIFE 1

Lot 2

This signed After Life image has been very kindly donated by animal welfare great Ricky Gervais.

Reserve £100

RICKY GERVAIS AFTER LIFE 2

Lot 3

This is an ORIGINAL watercolour, pastel and pencil study of a Badger by wildlife artist Milo. This STUNNING piece measures 54 x 41 cms

Reserve: £100

Lot 4

This is an ORIGINAL pencil study of a Rhino by Dane Youkers . This STUNNING piece measures 28 x 36 cms .

Reserve: £100

RHINO

Lot 5

‘The Animals Fight Back’ original watercolour by Charito Lilley. This thought-provoking piece measures 40 x 30 cms

Reserve: £50

THE ANIMALS FIGHT BACK

Lot 6

‘Tails Erect’ by Wildlife Artist Carol Barrett. This ORIGINAL study of Warthogs is in watercolour and ink and is on Rhino Dung Paper! It is mounted and measures 40 x 30 cms.

Reserve: £200

TAILS ERECT

Lot 7

A ‘Dazzle Of Zebras’ by Jan Ferguson. This stunning print measures 41 x 30 cms

Reserve: £30

A DAZZLE OF ZEBRAS

Lot 8

Limited Edition print titled ‘Highland Monarch’ Michael Demain. This stunning measures 56 x 34 cms.

Reserve: £40

HIGHLAND MONARCH

Lot 9

This is an ORIGINAL watercolour, pastel and pencil study of a Cheetah by wildlife artist Milo. This STUNNING piece measures 57 x 42 cms.

Reserve: £100

CHEETAH

Lot 10

This is an ORIGINAL watercolour, pastel and pencil study of a Fox by wildlife artist Milo. This STUNNING piece measures 58 x 42 cms.

Reserve: £100

FOX

Lot 11

This is an ORIGINAL watercolour, pastel and pencil study of a Clouded Leopard by wildlife artist Milo. This STUNNING piece measures 57 x 42 cms

Reserve: £100

CLOUDED LEOPARD

Lot 12

A beautiful print of Tiger cubs by Jan Ferguson. This piece measures 41 x 31 cms.

Reserve: £30

TIGER CUBS

Lot 13

This lot is for an official Scottish Rugby ball signed by the 2021/2022 squad.

Reserve: £75

OFFICIAL SIGNED SCOTTISH RUGBY BALL 2021/2022 SQUAD

Lot 14

This is a stunning ORIGINAL watercolour, pastel and pencil study of a Jaguar by wildlife artist Milo. This STUNNING piece measures 57 x 42 cms.

Reserve: £100

JAGUAR

Lot 15

This is a stunning ORIGINAL watercolour, pastel and pencil study of a pair of baby Snow Leopards by wildlife artist Milo. This STUNNING piece measures 59 x 42 cms.

Reserve: £100

A PAIR OF BABY SNOW LEOPARDS

Lot 16

This is a stunning ORIGINAL watercolour, pastel and pencil study of a Snow Leopard by wildlife artist Milo. This STUNNING piece measures 59 x 42 cms.

Reserve: £100

SNOW LEOPARD

Lot 17

A stunning Limited Edition print titled ‘Endangered Nobility’ by Kim Thompson. This beautiful study of the noble Lion measures 60 x 42 cms.

Reserve: £75

ENDANGERED NOBILITY

Lot 18

‘Mischief Maker’ is a beautiful Ltd Edition study of a Lion cub by Julie Rhodes. It is mounted and measures 560 x 380mm.

Reserve: £50

MISCHIEF MAKER

Lot 19

The beautiful Butterflies In The Round by Cath Hodsman. This Limited Print measures 51 x 41 cms.

Reserve: £50

BUTTERFLIES IN THE ROUND

Lot 20

This lot is ‘A Mother’s Love’, an adorable original watercolour, pastel and pencil of a Lioness and her cubs by wildlife artist Milo. This beautiful piece measures 30 x 28 cms.

Reserve: £75

A MOTHER’S LOVE

Lot 21

Who can resist ‘Those Eyes’? This delightful original watercolour, pastel and pencil study of a baby Orangutan is by Milo and measures 59 x 42 cms.

Reserve: £100

ORANGUTAN

Lot 22

A custom made digital pet portraits makes a wonderful keepsake or present for your loved ones and are ideal for framing.

Reserve: £25

DIGITAL PET PORTRAIT

Thank you for taking the time to look at our auction and happy bidding.

If you would like to make a donation to our fundraiser to help support our work you can do so at Fundraiser To Help Disabled Animals. Thank you.

THE LIMBE WILDLIFE CENTRE URGENTLY NEEDS HELP TO SECURE THE FUTURE FOR CAMEROON’S WILDLIFE

SECURING A FUTURE FOR CAMEROON’S WILDLIFE

The Limbe Wildlife Centre (LWC) is a conservation education centre in Limbe, Cameroon. Above all, they provide a solution to law enforcement agencies for where to place wildlife seized from the illegal wildlife trade. For all elements of their work, they collaborate with state and national government, communities, and other international and local NGOs to protect habitats and endangered species. In brief, they  in-situ and ex-situ activities that include rescue, rehabilitation and reintroduction, conservation education and advocacy, law reinforcement, creating alternative livelihoods to hunting, and research. Through a holistic approach, the LWC aims to ensure the survival of Cameroon’s unique flora and fauna.

Ultimately, there are three main pillars to our work: rescue and rehabilitation, education and community.

The Limbe Wildlife Centre (LWC) is being hit hard by the current Covid-19 pandemic. With no volunteers or visitors coming to the centre, they have lost an important source of income, and much of their grant funding has been cut due to the global economic downturn. With travel and business restrictions happening across Cameroon, like in many other countries, they are struggling to obtain the food and medication needed every day for their rescued wildlife.

At this difficult time, they urgently need your helpThey are dependent on your kindness to continue providing daily essential care to the more than 450 animals currently in their care.

Protect All Wildlife are supporting LWC continue their amazing work by selling these unique Ltd Edition tops to raise funds.

Please help @LimbeWildlife rescue, rehabilitate & release primates & other animals orphaned by the illegal bush meat and pet trades. These beautiful Ltd Edition tops are available in a variety styles & colours at https://teezily.com/stores/limbe-wildlife-centre…. All profits help this wonderful charity.

Chained, Beaten, Whipped And Exploited Like Slaves: The Hidden Horrors Meted Out To India’s Temple Elephants!

Originally published in The Independent.

They are the country’s icon – but behind the dazzle of religious festivals, these giants of the wild are painfully abused in Kerala.

When Audrey Gaffney first read about Raju, an Elephant kept in chains with spikes embedded in his ankles, she couldn’t stop the tears pouring down her face. “In fact, I cried again and again: I found over the next few days I just couldn’t get this story out of my head, I couldn’t stop thinking about Raju,” she recalls.

“I couldn’t believe the cruelty of my race.”

The young Elephant had been snatched from his family, she explains – his mother either would have been killed or spent weeks searching and crying for him – and he was beaten into submission. Raju then spent the next 50 years forced by his handler to beg in the street, starved, frightened and suffering infected wounds to his flesh. By the time of his rescue, he had resorted to eating plastic and paper.

Going on to discover that Raju was just one of thousands of Elephants treated this way in India, Ms Gaffney, a single mother from Liverpool, was spurred into becoming an activist for the first time. In the four years since, she says, her life has changed beyond recognition as she dropped her wariness of social media and teamed up with other volunteers working to raise awareness of the horrors to which the temple Elephants of India are subjected.

Taken from their families in the wild, shackled, beaten, whipped and exploited like slaves, these Elephants – ironically India’s icons – are painted and dressed in colourful decorations, to be paraded in regular festivals and processions organised by religious temples.

They are the world’s forgotten Elephant victims of mankind. While the world has focused on the threat of extinction to Africa’s Elephants caused by the ivory poaching crisis and the cruelty of tourist Elephant rides in Thailand and Cambodia, the plight of their captive counterparts in India has remained largely hidden from public gaze.

Fed the wrong diets, Kerala’s Elephants suffer malnourishment (Action for Elephants UK)

Photographs and videos posted online have shown how, away from the glitz of the festivals, these sensitive, intelligent and naturally sociable creatures are tied to the spot by ropes or chains that eat into their skin and inflict agonising injuries to their legs; they are hit with metal rods or bull-hooks – sharp tools – and “trained” with punishments to hold their heads high.

When the six-month festival season begins in December, they are forced to walk for miles in searing heat on hot, stinging tar roads and ridden into processions noisy with crowds and fireworks – terrifying for a creature whose home is the forest. While still shackled in chains they are made to run races or carry people and are subjected to “painful and unnatural” “head-lifting” competitions.

Some Elephants are carted from one festival to another – in some cases hundreds of miles – and despite suffering sometimes infected wounds from the chains, are ridden in searing temperatures by people who apparently see no harm in what they do.

The southern coastal state of Kerala has the highest number of festival Elephants, about 500 out of 3,500-4,000 across the country. Action for Elephants UK (AfE) brands Kerala “ground zero for elephant torture” and has called their illegal treatment “the worst case of animal cruelty in the world”. The plight of the 150 captive elephants in neighbouring Tamil Nadu is feared to be just as BAD.

Footage posted by local group Kerala Suffering Elephants (KSE) reveals how an Elephant named Gurvayur Nandan was paraded at a festival until dawn, before being transported for eight hours standing on the back of a truck in the scorching sun for eight hours without rest to a separate event that ran until midnight.

Malnourished and deprived of medical care, captive individuals of the endangered species rarely survive this “unrelenting neglect and torture” for a natural lifespan. The mortality rate in Kerala is shocking: 58 have died in 27 months, and already in 2018, 12 have succumbed, according to KSE. In seven years, the death toll is 350. “There could be no more damning proof of the hellish conditions and treatment meted out to these Elephants,” says Maria Mossman, founder of AfE.

Elephants are shackled in heavy chains that wound the flesh (Action for Elephants UK

For all the abuse, injuries and mental torment, it’s not the pain or infections that usually kills them early, it’s “intestinal impactions”: a blocked colon caused by being fed the wrong diet and insufficient quantities of water. The condition means they die “a miserable and painful” early death.

Campaigners have had enough. Gathering outside the Indian High Commission in London, they staged a protest to draw the attention of the New Delhi government and the world at large to the animals’ plight. Wearing large Elephant masks and waving placards, they came from a variety of backgrounds; some had travelled hundreds of miles to be there.

What unites these women – and yes, the campaigners are nearly all women – is a shared abhorrence of the “abuse and torture”. They adamantly deny attempting to interfere with religious culture.

“Temple Elephants are not part of any tradition,” explains Ms Mossman.

Their use in temples and festivals is not part of Indian culture, nor do Hindu scriptures anywhere say that Elephants should be used in temple rituals. On the contrary, the barbaric treatment of these elephants goes completely against the core beliefs of Hinduism”

In fact, the cruelty behind Kerala’s rituals is thought to have begun about a century ago as India’s nouveaux riches started to buy Elephants to flaunt their wealth. Denise Dresner, a co-organiser of AfE, recalls the heart-wrenching moment that opened her eyes to the scale of the problem: “In 2013 I saw a video by Peta of Sunder the temple Elephant being beaten. This was something I’d never witnessed before.

“An Elephant was on its side on the ground, struggling to get up. His feet were shackled and he was being beaten violently by several men, over and over again. He kept struggling, unable to get away from the blows raining down on him. I learned later he had been kept in a dark shed and beaten incessantly for seven years.

“That moment of seeing him being beaten and tortured was seared into my brain and heart. It’s an image that will never leave me, one that shows the extremes of human violence and brutality towards other living beings. The unspeakable cruelty perpetrated on these majestic, sentient and highly intelligent creatures must end.”

For Maria Harper, another protester, it’s the duration of the suffering that is worst. “What upset me most was when I realised the length of time the temple and festival Elephants suffer,” she says.

“They can endure cruelty and abuse for more than 50 years – if they are unfortunate enough to survive that long. It’s a life sentence”

Seeing the photos and hearing the accounts is harrowing. But Ms Mossman says it’s vital if their welfare is to improve. “The world needs to know how handlers use banned weapons and restrain them with heavy shackles, often tightened so severely that they cut through the flesh, causing raw bleeding wounds that are seldom treated. “They are often forced to stand in the same position 24/7, in their own urine and excrement, suffering from foot rot. They are beaten and tortured time and again.”

Some mahouts think nothing of whipping an Elephant to make it bend to his will, such as climbing into a truck. But the abuse doesn’t end there.

Most of Kerala’s captive Elephants are bulls. When they enter their annual musth – mating season – their testosterone levels and energy surge, so the mahouts tighten their shackles further until the creatures are unable to move. In addition, food and water are restricted to weaken them.

But then comes the cruellest torture yet. Several men, often drunken, beat the chained Elephant for up to 72 hours relentlessly. The practice is based on a superstitious belief that the Elephants may have forgotten their commands during their musth, and is designed to break the Elephant’s spirit, “reminding him that his masters are in control”.

All bull Elephants in Kerala undergo this horror every year.

These practices are banned by the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 and the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, but campaigners point out that the laws are routinely ignored.

Elephants are paraded with no ownership papers or parade certificates, or with fake fitness certificates, breaking the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, which says they cannot be exploited for profit, AfE says. Recent laws banning the use of disabled, sick or pregnant elephants in festivals are also ignored.

“The plight of these Elephants is arguably the worst case of animal abuse in the world. The suffering that temple Elephants endure is unimaginable”

“India has very good laws, but they are ignored daily and the abusers go unpunished,” says Ms Mossman. “Not only are Elephants intelligent and sentient beings, they are an endangered species. It is the duty not only of India to enforce the laws to protect them, but of the world to hear their cries of suffering and respond to end the brutality against them.”

She and KSE agree that making profits and keeping the status quo are at the root of the problem. “These sentient animals are seen only as commodities, earning huge sums of money for their owners and the temples,” says Ms Mossman. “Exploited under the veneer of culture and religion, they are big business. Everyone, from the chief minister downwards, has a stake.”

The 3,000 temples that rent out Elephants to festival organisers are run by four devaswom (socio-religious trusts), appointed by the state government, and each temple earns many millions of rupees from festivals.

Any Elephant that makes it beyond 60 is purposely neglected and abused – treated as a disposable item – so the owners can make hefty insurance claims, according to AfE.

Sangita Iyer, who was born and raised in Kerala and made an award-winning 2016 film, Gods in Shackles, revealing what goes on behind the scenes at the festivals, is convinced greed is to blame.

“Elephants are allowed to die so the owners can receive the pay-outs. There’s a whole insurance industry surrounding this, in which the owners and brokers make the most profit.”

A dead tusker that suffered intestinal blockages is covered with a cloth. Most captive elephants die young after years of pain (Action for Elephants UK)

According to India’s Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre, which in 2014 petitioned the Supreme Court of India to order better conditions for the animals, another factor is young men showing off. “Today’s mahouts are in it for the glamour and the thrill. Unlike the mahouts of the old, who learnt the ways of handling the Elephants over time, these guys know only oppression and violence,” one rescuer says.

Nor does Ms Iyer particularly blame festival-goers. “Most people are unaware of the crushing burden these Elephants carry, in the literal sense, on their backs, and in their hearts and souls. Most people don’t realise the brutality that these sentient beings undergo to entertain them. They are so hypnotised by the majestic, ornate Elephants and lost in their own selfish world that they don’t even look at the raw bleeding ankles.”

However bad the suffering of the individuals, the abuse has wider repercussions. KSE warns it could even lead to the extinction of Indian Elephants.

“As each of these Elephants die from overwork, intestinal impactions etc, the surviving ones are going to be overworked even more. It’s a vicious cycle and will probably end only when there are no Elephants left”

Taking young Elephants from the wild has a serious impact on wild Elephant populations in India and elsewhere, activists fear. People’s lives, too, are being put at risk. Some elephants, driven frantic by their suffering, break free and run amok. Behind media reports of people being killed by a rampaging Elephant there almost always lies a story of a brutalised animal.

There have also been 300 incidents of Elephants running amok in the first three months of this year. Earlier this month there were unconfirmed reports of Elephants running amok at festivals in Ernakulam and Kollam districts. Unofficial counts put it at 20 incidents in one week.

Action for Elephants is warning prime minister Narendra Modi these rituals are not just harming the country’s most iconic wildlife, but also India’s multi-million-pound tourism industry and reputation. “We hope tourists and visitors to India will make ethical choices and will shun all forms of Elephant tourism that use elephants in any unnatural way, whether in festivals or for trekking or rides or any other purpose,” a statement by the group says.

“In this day and age, when we have gained so much knowledge about the intelligence, emotional capacity, and social bonds of these majestic creatures, and when we know how endangered they are, we believe that all countries have a duty to protect them, treat them humanely, and give them sanctuary.”

India is positioned to take a global lead in ethical wildlife tourism, the letter says.

As long as the current system of cruelty is allowed to continue, the more it will negatively impact India’s tourism and tarnish India’s reputation and image in the world

Signatories include primatologist Jane Goodall, TV star Michael Palin, author Jilly Cooper, TV presenter Anneka Svenska and radio presenter Nicky Campbell, as well as MP Zac Goldsmith.

Filmmaker Ms Iyer believes educating the public is the only way to achieve change. “Ignorance and arrogance make for a bad potion, and unless and until we are able to create attitude shifts in the public eye, there’s little hope for these sentient beings.

“There is no point in fighting the owners or brokers. Enlightening the people is the only way to stop the audience from participating in festivals that use live Elephants and reduce demand for such cultural festivals. When the demand dies down, the Elephants will be ultimately phased out.”

The Indian High Commission in London did not respond to a request by The Independent to comment and refused to send anybody to open the door when visited in person.

There are some glimmers of hope, however. Occasionally, news of progress made by welfare workers on the ground emerges, and an elephant rescue can become a stand-out memory for followers. The film that startled Ms Gaffney was called Raju the Elephant Cried on the Day he was Released from Chains. His rescue made headlines.

Ms Dresner says she followed each step in a protracted legal case to free Sunder with her heart in her throat. “Finally, when he was freed, the joy was overwhelming. Like so many others, I then followed his progress in his new home at Bannerghatta Biological Park, crying (happily) with every bit of good news: his healing leg, his first swim in the pond, his making new friends, his putting weight on his skeletal frame.”

Fellow demonstrator Joanne Smith agrees. “The terrible delays with the court case were so hard to take but the day Sunder was given his freedom was thrilling,” she recalls. “It proved to me that we can make a difference with hard work and determination.”

In the past two years, three temples have done away with renting Elephants for festivals. One used mechanical stand-in; another used an 8ft dummy made of plaster of Paris and bamboo. Organisers say they may even offer the model to neighbouring temples for their own festivals, allowing the idea to catch on.

The London protest and letter also have the support of Absolutely Fabulous star Joanna Lumley, whose message was: “One of the most influential Indians of all time, Mahatma Gandhi, said: ‘The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.’

“India! Listen to his words and implement them. The world supports your laws against cruelties to temple Elephants, but only you can ensure that they are enforced.”

And that, say campaigners, really would be worth a celebration.

Gods In Shackles

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I’m A Celebrity Bosses Ban Live Insects From Bushtucker Trials After Backlash From Animal Rights Groups.

I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! bosses ‘banned the use of live insects for bushtucker trials’ after facing backlash from animal rights activists.

According to reports, the apparent change to the format of the show will remain a permanent fixture.

‘They have been planning this for some time,’ an insider claimed to the Mirror. ‘And actually, last year beach worms were the only critters eaten live but this time around they’ve decided to implement the change fully and permanently.’

This comes just days after animal rights activist Tayana Simons wrote a piece for Metro.co.uk calling for the use of all live animals in the programme’s trials to be banned.

In the column, Tayana writes: ‘Not only does this harm the animals involved, but it also normalises animal cruelty to audiences of millions, including young children.

‘This isn’t just a view shared by animal rights organisations such as Viva! which has campaigned against the show since it began, celebrities such as Chris Packham and Lucy Watson have also voiced their opposition to the use of animals in the trials.

Chris Packham’s Twitter post to I’m A Celebrity presenters Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnely

‘The horrific scene of celebrity Ferne McCann eating a live spider received a massive 1,500 viewer complaints, while in 2010 the show was fined by the RSPCA in Australia for killing and cooking a rat purely for entertainment.

this celebrity ‘trial’ of Ferne McCann eating a live spider received 1,500 viewer complaints

‘The Bushtucker Trials epitomise a flippant disregard for non-human animal life which does not belong in this century. They need to end.

 ‘If the animals used in the show were socially valued animals such as cats or dogs, there would be an uproar at scenes of them being grabbed and flung by the neck, tossed around in overcrowded caves or having their body parts eaten on live TV.’

Please SHARE to raise awareness to this issue. You can also SUBSCRIBE to receive news and updates straight to your inbox.