Amitabh Bachchan appeals to animal lovers to save elephant Bijlee

Tue, June 18, 2013 6:30pm IST by
Amitabh Bachchan appeals to animal lovers to save elephant Bijlee
Amitabh Bachchan - Yogen Shah; Elephant - Amitabh Bachchan Facebook

The actor has requested authorities and animal lovers to help rescue Bijlee who has been lying hurt on the road in a Mumbai suburb

What is Amitabh Bachchan concerned about? The ailing elephant Bijlee. He has appealed to animal lovers to rescue the tusker who had collapsed near Wockhardt Hospital in Mulund last week. In a series of tweets, the 70- year-old said, “Attention! elephant ‘Bijlee’ lying collapsed in Mulund, suburb of Mumbai…she needs cure…will authorities please extend all help.”

He further tweeted, “There is an NGO AMTM (Animals Matter to Me) working on Bijlee, giving food etc, but she needs to get to a hospital. Authority help needed. Equipment to carry (sic). A compassionate appeal to all animal lovers. Please come forward and extend all possible help. I just did. Will you.”

The actor also put up photographs of Bijlee on his blog with details of the NGO where one can contribute in whatever way possible.

“I am not in the habit of putting appeals on the social media, for reasons that concern me contractually. But I do believe in this unfortunate incident, and believe that if something can be done for this beleaguered elephant lying on the road in great misery, she will survive and flourish,” he said in his blog post.

“So let us do our best that we can, for those that suffer, that speak of their misery in a language that we cannot understand, but who we know would understand any help that can be extended to them,” he further added.

Bijlee, a 58-year-old female elephant, belongs to a couple who used her to beg for alms at marriages and other auspicious occasions.Subscribe to me on YouTube


  • Elisabete

    Animals MUST and DESERVE to be respected!
    Save Bijlee. I’ve already signed care2 petition.

  • surendra varma

    As a elephant researcher I wish to share my view on Bijlee— the injured and abandoned female elephant

    In cites of Mumbai or elsewhere are a specific category of elephants referred as “Travel-Begging” elephants, the title synonymous with the predominant activity performed by the animals and Bijlee is not just part of this group, but also representative of the situation faced by such elephants. These elephants are primarily owned by their mahouts. Owners of such elephants target economically viable urban areas using the elephant to generate income; income that has to sustain a group of at least 10- 12 persons―mahout, his family and the owners. When such elephants become old, income generation is reduced, with the added complication of increased medical expenses (for treating the elephant) for the keepers or owners.

    Travel-begging elephants do not have any permanent shelters against extreme weather— they are generally parked under opportune urban structures such as flyovers with no access to any of the features essential to elephants such as, access to natural food items (different species and parts of plants), access to water when needed, opportunity to dust-bathe or access to rubbing posts, or a chance to interact with other elephants. They are exposed to people morning and evening and the only opportunity to walk is on tar roads amidst heavy automotive traffic.

    The two most important aspects of their lifestyle are food intake and the substrate on which they walk or are exposed to. Feeding regime consisted of consumption of left-overs from eateries, sometimes food is scavenged from garbage dumps, feeding of limited types of plant species (paddy or wheat straw, hay) in quantities not proportionate to their needs— this will only result in improper weight maintenance i.e., either the elephants are obese or thin. Secondly, exposure of the animals’ feet to hard structures such as concrete or tar will create either deep-seated – difficult-to-treat foot and leg injuries or absence of traction (smooth soles) on their feet. The combination of improper weight and foot disorders can be termed lethal at best, as any unfortunate incident of slipping can result in the elephant becoming recumbent.

    Elephants in forest or natural environment rarely lose their balance and fall, or are known to have problems such as fractures or joint dislocation. Once they fall, there is no biological mechanism that makes the elephant to get up. These are irreparable problems, once elephants fall, one can attempt to treat elephants, but they are going continue to suffer throughout their life and the elephant can be considered to be living dead. The intelligent approach would be to prevent the fall, but not treating the animal after the fall.

    In the event of any accident to the elephant such as a fall or incidence of disease, the owner will find it easy to abandon his animal rather than treat it as the costs involved are high and there is no guarantee that the animal can be used for work afterwards. In certain states in India, there have been instances of injured elephants lying on the roadsides, with treatment being provided to them but no improvement in their physical health. The animal may not die immediately and may be left recumbent or in the same position for long periods. It is of immeasurable suffering (both physical and psychological) to the injured animal.

    All efforts made towards saving elephants in the event of an accident in the form of generating funds for its treatment, providing a shelter for it are laudable. These efforts would have borne better results and helped many more such elephants if the reasons for such accidents are known to the general public. As a first step towards helping Travel-Begging elephants is to create a strong volunteer base, who could be trained to collect relevant data particularly the economic status of elephant owner.

    Both rich and poor elephant owners are expect to behave in the same way, once health problems of his/her elephant starts. But elephant owners who are economically poor, with poor resource and knowledge base are expected to abandon their elephant once the health issues related to the elephant starts or it falls. The details related to such owners and elephants are important in initiating necessary steps in case the animal needs help.

    Volunteers could also note down opportunistic details of any Travel-Begging elephant they come across (place, time, activity of the animal, photos) — this would help in creating a database of frequently used locations, animal and mahout details, along with emergency access to neighborhood paramedical or veterinary services in case of need.

    The government with public partnership has to come forward to rehabilitate both elephants and their owners. Activities that generate resource for the owner (education based activities) could be initiated with the welfare condition being in place all the time. Another equally important issue at hand – in the event of an accident, onlookers tend to crowd round the animal, along with volunteers trying to help it. Crowding around the animal will only
    add to its stress and confusion and not help it in any way.

    Among the first things to do in such an event is:
    a. Ensure that a doctor known for treating elephants is called in
    b. Ensure crowds do not surround the animal
    c. Quiet and calm surroundings till the doctor and his/her team arrives
    d. Only on the advice of the doctor, the next course of action should be decided – shifting it to a safer location, further treatment, etc

    See also; for some titles published under the following titles

    Travelling and begging elephants of India – An Investigation into the Status, Management and Welfare Significance.

    Welfare Status and Cruelty meted out to Elephant Poornima: An Investigation into the welfare status and Cruelty meted out to Elephant Poornima.

    Captive Elephants of Gujarat: An Investigation into the Status, Management and Welfare Significance. Elephants in Captivity:

    Wandering Elephants of Punjab: An Investigation of the Population Status, Management and Welfare Significance

    Captive Elephants of Maharastra: An investigation into the population Status, management and welfare significance.

    Surendra Varma
    Asian Elephant Research and Conservation Programme
    ANCF, CES, IISc, Bangalore 560 012, -+ Office: ++91-80-23615491, 2360649; Home: ++91-80 65324384