Blind elephant named Karma receives care at sanctuary in north India after lifetime of captive abuse

Karma, a 46-year-old blind elephant, is being taken into care at a sanctuary in north India after a lifetime of abuse in captivity. Karma was rescued by Wildlife SOS in December 2019 and is now slowly learning to rebuild her life at the Elephant Care and Conservation Centre near Mathura, Uttar Pradesh. The gentle giant was reportedly either used to beg or made to carry loads through crowded Indian streets, an exceptionally traumatic experience for a blind elephant, who had to depend entirely on her handlers to navigate through traffic. Two videos shot in January 2020 shows the steady progress she is making. The first video shared by Wildlife SOS on January 8 shows Karma experiencing her first taste of freedom as she steps off an ambulance. She walks into an elephant hospital tentatively feeling her way step-by-step and is entirely dependent on her new caretakers. The second video shared on January 30 shows a much more confident Karma strolling independently along the path on the banks of the Yamuna River. Because she is completely blind in both eyes, she is cautious with every step she takes. She uses her trunk to guide her by both feeling and smelling the earth in front of her. For now, caretakers guide her walks and stay close by as she becomes more familiar with her environment. Karma is now under quarantine and when that period ends, she will meet some of the other elephants at the centre and will hopefully become part of a herd. Karma’s caretakers say she is doing well. They say she laid down for the first time on January 25 at 4:00am, a sign that she is getting stronger and feeling more confident.

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