Global Citizen is a community of people like you

People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you.

Photo by Casey Allen on Unsplash
Health

India Just Opened Its First Elephant Hospital — and the Pictures Are Amazing

Why Global Citizens Should Care
Biodiversity is dwindling all around the world and elephants in particular face a range of threats. The United Nations Global Goals calls on countries to protect the environment and animals and you can join us in taking action on this issue here.

Elephants that are battered, bruised, and otherwise injured can now get the medical help they need in Uttar Pradesh, India, according to Reuters.

A 12,000-square-foot elephant hospital opened in the city of Mathura on Nov. 16 that caters primarily to elderly elephants and those that have experienced trauma in captivity. For example, many captive elephants are often shackled, whipped, and beaten. Other elephants that sustain injuries in the wild are also welcomed at the hospital.

Elephant doctors will have access to “wireless digital X-Ray, thermal imaging, ultrasonography, tranquilization devices, and quarantine facilities,” and they’ll be able to visit elephants remotely that aren’t able to travel to the hospital, according to Reuters.

Take Action: Ensure All Communities Can Withstand Climate Disaster

Animal rights groups are applauding the facility, called the Wildlife SOS Hospital, as a sign of conservation done right.

“I think by building a hospital we are underlining the fact that elephants need welfare measures as much as any other animal,” Geeta Seshamani, co-founder of Wildlife SOS, the nonprofit behind the hospital, told Reuters.

“That captive elephants are not meant to be used and abused but instead have to be given the respect which an animal needs if you are going to be using the animal,” she added.

India is home to half of Asia’s elephant population, yet their numbers have been dropping in recent years, and Indian elephants are considered endangered.

Read More: Mozambique Gets Gift of 200 Elephants to Help Replenish Population

Indian elephants roam for around 19 hours a day and eat so much food that they can produce up to 220 pounds of waste each day. These biological imperatives mean that the animals need large amounts of land and food to survive. As human development proliferates in the country, elephant habitats are dwindling, depriving the animals of sustenance.

As humans move into elephant ranges, meanwhile, the big creatures more frequently wander into towns and cities, where they get frightened and stampede over houses and people. Deprived of food sources, elephants also devour crops throughout farmlands, earning the ire of the agricultural industry. These byproducts of sprawling and often unregulated human development have led to elephants being poisoned and hunted to minimize interactions.

Elephants are also under the constant threat of poaching to fuel the black market demand for ivory. Because only male Indian elephants have tusks, poaching skews the sex ratio of the species, imperiling future generations.

Read More: Humans Could Face Extinction if We Don't Protect Biodiversity: UN

While the elephant hospital in Mathura doesn’t guarantee the species’ long-term survival, it does signal to the country that elephants are worth protecting.

It has also become a tourist attraction, according to Reuters, which could help spur broader conservation efforts.

In addition to the treatment center, dedicated wildlife reserves big enough to accommodate the animal’s tendencies can help to conserve the species and India currently has 32 elephant reserves

For example, the North Bank Landscape along the foothills of the Himalayas provides 1,600 square miles of protected habitat for elephants to live.