Dhara has passed away

Thanks for your support for Dhara.  Please feel free to leave a tribute message in the comments section below.Dhara, the elephant calf, was less than a year old. She was found alone, orphaned during the severe monsoon floods that hit the Indian state of Assam this June.

Dhara and her family must have been fleeing the rising water. Rushing to higher ground she suffered a crippling injury, one that would eventually prove fatal.

She was admitted on June 28th to the IFAW Wildlife Rescue Center in Kaziranga with a severe elbow dislocation on her left front leg. Our team of vets provided immediate first aid, took x-rays of her injured leg and fitted a reinforced cast on the ailing elephant’s leg to stabilize it for the next 21 days.

The Center is currently home to eight orphan elephants. We rescue calves that have been injured, orphaned or displaced and need rescue. Our first choice when encountering injured wildlife is always to treat the animal in the field and help it to rejoin its family. Unfortunately for Dhara, this wasn’t possible and her only chance of survival was to care for her at the Center in the hope that she could recover, and in due course, be released back to the wild.

Caring for an elephant calf and rehabilitating it back to the wild is no simple task. It takes round-the-clock commitment from caretakers, expert veterinary services, and years of experience; still there are no guarantees.

We knew that Dhara’s injury was complicated. Surviving the terrible ordeal of losing her mother and herd during the floods was a remarkable feat in itself; would she also have enough resilience to recover from such a devastating injury?

At her young age, the calf was fed enriched milk nine times a day and had a caretaker by her side at all times. She had regular vet check-ups and the Center staff was encouraged to see Dhara regain her energy, walk around the nursery, eat well, and behave like other elephants.

As planned, at day 21, the cast was removed. Again we were hopeful when we saw that she could bear her full weight on the injured leg and move slowly around her enclosure.

On July 26th she was allowed to go out of the nursery for a short and slow walk. She fell once and did not look stable, so she was quickly taken back to the enclosure. By then, she was unable to stand properly and leaned on the walls for support. A few minutes later the vets put her on an intravenous saline drip.

Dhara’s health never recovered and she passed away on July 28, exactly one month after she arrived to the Center.

A necropsy (animal autopsy) was conducted and the severity of the joint dislocation became evident. Her lungs appeared slightly congested but that isn’t unusual after the fall she suffered and her struggles that last day.

Additional samples were collected and sent to the nearby College of Veterinary Science in Guwahati to run some more tests and get a better idea of the cause of death.  

Dhara had gone through enormous stress the past few weeks – fleeing the floods, being separated from her family, enduring such a painful and severe injury.  Our caregivers poured their hearts into treating her, and so many of our supporters pitched in to help as well. 

Unfortunately, the reality of rescuing wild animals is that sometimes, despite our best care and most hopeful wishes, they simply can’t survive their injuries. 

We’ve had so very many success stories to share with you; it’s inevitable that we have to share some losses as well.  Those moments are difficult and sad, but we know we must move forward with renewed dedication. 

The remaining elephants at the Wildlife Rescue Center…the rhinos and deer we rescued from the same Indian flooding…and the dogs, cats, bear cubs, raptors, and so many other animals we’re caring for around the world remind us how vital and enduring our mission to protect animals truly is.

Thank you for all the well wishes for Dhara, and thank you especially for your incredible support.


Comments: 347

5 years ago

My heart and compassion was with you in your peril.I had hoped you would recover and have a happy life.My heart aches thinking how helpless you were.My only consolation is the emergency team found you and helped to ease your pain if only for a little while.You did not pass away alone or unloved.

5 years ago

Sweet little girl! You were so brave and showed us you were fighting to live. I felt so honored to be able to help you. I saw you back out in the jungle, living a ling full life, at least that was my hope for you. The world lost a dear, courageous soul. You will live in our hearts always! Be happy little one, you are in a beautiful, happy, peaceful place now. I am so glad you were a part of my world even if it was only for a short time.

5 years ago

I am just now reading of Dhara's death and I am very sad... crying in fact. I know that everyone involved did everything they could to give Dhara the best chance possible to pull through. Thank you for all your efforts and the work that you do! It means the world to all the animals that you are able to help. And even though Dhara did not make it, she passed knowing that you all were on her side and that you cared. Please continue to fight the good fight!

Bless you all,

Darrin McKeehen, P.G.
Jacksonville, FL

5 years ago

I am so, so very sorry to hear of Dhara's passing. I hope & pray that she went very peacefully.....it hurts my heart to hear that. She is with God now & is no longer in pain....God Bless her precious spirit & thank God for the time she was here on earth as a Blessing to others. God Bless those of you who were a Blessing to her as well....I pray we are all able to keep helping those who cannot help themselves & rely on you all for care & support. God Bless everyone & every animal on this, our God's Planet. All we can do is help all the creatures of this home we call "Planet Earth".

Take Care & God Bless,

Jeanette Green

5 years ago

Often in the field of my work, we animal behaviorists are taught to just observe and not become involved in the cycle of nature. As a Christian I was taught that we humans are the guardians of this planet and must honor it. This world if a gift to us. Most of the time I haven't a problem just observing and seeing the "greater picture", but when coming across an animal injured by the contraptions of man, or a struggling animal trying to survive a natural disaster I have the choice. That choice has always been to help the animal. There was/is a Greater Plan that placed me at that time, at that place and I must help. Just to remove Dhara from the stress of pain, fear of predation, abandonment and give her a place of solitude to recover or die in peace was the task of your staff.
Good Job, Guardian.
D'Aun Carrell

5 years ago

Thanks a lot from the bottom of my heart to all of the IFAW rescue center members for taking care of her.. God bless you our tiny lovely elephant.. you dont pass away because you will be always eternal!!

5 years ago

Sweet Dhara, I'm so sorry you couldn't live the life you deserved. May you rest in peace and happiness, and many thanks to those who dedicated their time and compassion for your welfare. I hope that your short lived legacy is not an oversight for caring for other animals worldwide. -Melissa

5 years ago

Dhara was fortunate to have found love and comfort after her terribly frightening ordeal, fleeing the flood waters, losing her family and becoming severely injured. It was wonderful for her to have had caregivers around the clock who cared about and for her. Thanks to all who worked so hard to give her another chance. Sometimes a tragedy leads to more awareness and many more caring people. I would like to believe that she gave her life so that more help will come so that many more animals needing help will be able to survive.

5 years ago

Elephants are very fragile. Rest in peace where you are safe. We will miss you. God bless.

5 years ago

God bless you, sweet girl...I like to think you are romping on heaven's vast elephant plain!

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Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
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