Even as the city prayed for her recovery, Bijli, the 58year-old elephant who had been battling illness for the past 19 days, breathed her last on Sunday.
Bijli’s owner Ratiram Goswami (left) and members of his family mourn after she passed away on Sunday .
The ageing pachyderm’s struggle ended at 5.58am, when she stopped responding to the exhaustive medication veterinarians from the Wildlife SOS had been giving her for degenerative joint disorder, obesity and deep wounds.
Bijli had gained the attention of animal welfare organisations and citizens after she collapsed in front of Wockhardt hospital in Mulund on June 11.
“Her condition deteriorated rapidly in the last 48 hours. She was in a sorry state when we started her treatment,” said Dr Ajay Deshmukh, veterinarian, Wildlife SOS.
“We followed a rigorous routine of medication advised by Dr KK Sharma [an expert from Guwahati], who was called in last week to see her, but unfortunately, she broke down.”
Filled with frenetic activity for the past three weeks, the Mulund (West) site where Bijli was being treated was shrouded in gloom on Sunday. Residents lined up to get one last look at her as she lay wrapped in a red cloth. Bijli’s owner Ratiram Goswami, his nephew Umesh and other members of their family sat by her body, weeping inconsolably.
“My uncle bought Bijli in 1981 in from Bihar and she has been a part of our family. Unlike what people are saying, we were not cruel to her. It is a great loss for us,” said Umesh, her mahout.
Animal activists said the forest department should devise a system to stop cruelty against elephants in the city.
“These animals need special handling and her condition clearly indicates she was not given that care,” said Ganesh Nayak, founder, Animals Matter to Me, who funded Bijli’s treatment.
The forest department took the her body to Padgha in Thane district, where a post mortem was carried out. She was buried there in the evening; her tusks were burnt separately.