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On her first day of eating grass all by herself, the young elephant Masini, was living as a happy baby in the elephant camp in Mudumalai Forest.


After having been accidentally left behind by her wandering herd in the Kargudi Forest Range, she’d been picked up by the Forest Service and taken to the Mudumalai elephant camp, where she was doted on by all the elephant keepers there, as well as the whole herd.


At the elephant camp, the elephants do work in the forest, but they are much loved and well cared for. They are together and surrounded by the natural forest habitat. At night they sleep among the trees and the peaceful sounds all around them.


After several years of this calm existence, one day, completely out of the blue, in 2016, Masisni found herself being taken away from the forest. Unknown to her, she had been “donated” by a public official to a temple, where she would live separated from her friends, and, surrounded by temple walls, would be forced to spend her days, in the heat, standing on a hard floor, greeting temple worshippers.


Most temple worshippers have only ever seen elephants in the temple, and they have no understanding that this is not a good life for the elephants. They assume that it is natural for elephants to be kept in temples, but of course, it is not.


Masini soon fell into a state of depression and anger, sometimes behaving violently. Severely beaten by her unscrupulous keepers, she was badly injured.


Janani Krishnamurthi of  Kodaikanal SPCA took great interest in the case of Masini and engaged a lawyer who gave his services pro bono. They all worked with great diligence to save Masini from the fate that had befallen her.


A petition was drawn up to ask the court to release her back into the forest where she had so happily spent the first years of her life. The Animal Welfare Board of India found she was under great mental stress and recommended her immediate removal back to the forest camp.




Following a court order, she was to be moved in November, 2018; however this had to be delayed when cyclone Gaia struck, pummeling Tamil Nadu with heavy rains. On December 19, officials got together again to plan her transfer. Finally, on January 4, she was actually moved, relocated back to the Theppakadu Camp where she had spent the happy times of her life.


Janani has written, “There has been tremendous progress from the day she arrived until January18, when I went and met her … the natural environment and her place of familiarity is helping her heal … her swelling has reduced and her wounds are healing. She’s loving her walks and mud baths and interacting with other elephants … the mahout is the same person who looked after her when she was an orphaned calf. And he says, jokingly, that she will influence other elephants to be as naughty as she is … and now Theppakadu Camp ever since Masini arrived has become very happy because all the elephants seem to be interacting and communicating with her.”


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Janani is very optimistic that the final verdict for Masini will ensure her permanent place in her home back in Mudumalai forest.


She asks for prayers and positive energy for Masini and expresses confidence that, after the court’s final verdict, she will at last be safe and able to spend the rest of her life back in the forest with her friends.


This kind work is not a project sponsored by the Forest Voices of India – it is instead an inspirational story of compassion, caring, and the relentless determination of all those working to ensure Masini and other elephants a future of beauty, peace, and a natural life.


It’s not possible for the Kodaikanal SPCA to accept foreign donations. Have a look at their website though, and if you live in India, please consider helping with their work of compassion and kindness for animals.


Photo: Courtesy of KSPCA, Masini having a beautiful bath back in the forest with her mahout, Bomman.



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