Villagers knit jumpers for Indian elephants to protect the large mammals from near-freezing temperatures

Local women make colourful jumpers for formerly abused animals after staff at conservation centre warn of temperatures dipping close to freezing point

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The Independent Online

Elephants in India are sporting colourful woollen jumpers after villagers knitted the super-size garments to protect the animals from near-freezing temperatures.

Women in a village near the Wildlife SOS Elephant Conservation and Care Centre in the northern city of Mathura reportedly began producing the colourful, pyjama-like garments after staff at the centre warned temperatures were approaching sub-zero at night.

The conservation centre takes in rescued elephants who have previously suffered chronic neglect and beatings from cruel handlers.

Photographs show female elephants wearing the carefully embroidered outfits, which cover their legs, back and neck, as centre staff and villagers stand among them.

Kartick Satyanarayan, founder of the centre, said it was important to protect the formerly abused elephants from the cold.

“It is important to keep our elephants protected from the bitter cold during this extreme winter, as they are weak and vulnerable having suffered so much abuse making them susceptible to ailments such as pneumonia," she told the Times of India.

"The cold also aggravates their arthritis which is a common issue that our rescued elephants have to deal with.”

The centre currently houses 20 elephants that have been rescued from illegal captivity, trafficking mafia, exploited for street begging and circuses where they were abused and subjected to extreme cruelty.

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Staff have plans to rescue a further 50 elephants in 2017, with hopes to secure more land to expand the sanctuary.

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