The Society for Elephant Welfare has been formed with a view to spread awareness about the plight of the captive elephant primarily in Kerala as well as the rest of the country, and for the rescue and rehabilitation of this magnificent, gentle giant of the forest. We are dedicated to the preservation of elephants and their habitats throughout India. Chitra Iyer has been rescuing and rehoming cats and dogs for longer than 20 years. The transition from working with cats and dogs to working with elephants came about in a moment of deja vu when she met up with an old childhood pal, a pachyderm named Mahadevan, during the shooting of a film she was working on.
“My love affair with the elephant began a long time ago. When I was a child of five. Or perhaps four. I don’t remember. But what is perhaps my most vivid memory, is the time I spent in my grandfather’s home in Kerala, playing with my then best friend, Mahadevan, the temple elephant, who was himself a baby. We were about the same age and got along great, in spite of being different species.
Life pulled us apart and we met again, this time as adults. Mahadevan had been through the worst as a captive elephant in the service of Lord Shiva, while I had gone on to become a singer, had a family, children, and a good life.
He was sick and dying. I tried to save him but I neither had the knowledge nor the required connections to free him from his terrible state of bondage and he died, a miserable, tragic death. What a waste of a magnificent creature’s life! His death jolted me into wakefulness and I resolved to do something to rescue the rest of his kind, sold into slavery and languishing in temples and circuses and lumber yards and the private homes of wealthy businessmen, actors and politicians.”
We hope that a day will come when there will be no more of these beautiful creatures in captivity and that their numbers increase and they will once again claim their rightful place in the forests of India.