MATHURA - Bollywood actor Sidharth Malhotra on Monday extended his full support to elephant rescue efforts, after a visit to the rescue and rehabilitation centre run by Wildlife SOS. A special guest at 'Save the Elephant Day' celebrations at the centre, he expressed concern over the plight of Asian elephants. Sidarth spent time with rescued elephants Laxmi, Maya and Phoolkali, feeding them fresh fruits - bananas, sugarcane, and watermelon.
He also interacted with the veterinarians at the centre providing treatment to the elephants and learning about the status of Asian elephants in India. The highlight of the visit however was his keen interest in Gajraj, the 70-year-old tusker rescued from Maharashtra's Satara. Used in temple processions for over 51 years, the elephant was, with advancing age, found to be suffering from several medical issues like foot abscess, partial blindness etc. Gajraj is now under lifetime care and treatment at Wildlife SOS's Elephant Conservation and Care Centre, which is home to over 20 elephants that were rescued from critical situations and are under rehabilitation now. Several of these majestic animals have spent a majority of their lives doing hard work in harsh and cruel conditions, which in turn has taken a negative toll on them both physically and psychologically. Sidharth was deeply moved upon hearing the heart-breaking stories of these elephantsAand what they had endured before they were rescued by Wildlife SOS. "Save The Elephant Day is a great initiative and Wildlife SOS is doing some fabulous work by saving the endangered species. It's extremely essential for each one of us to do our bit and help save our animals." Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) are listed as "endangered" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and protected under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. India currently has a population of about 25,000-30,000 elephants out of which about 3,500 are captive.