The Thrissur based Elephant Lovers Association (ELA) has called for a high level probe into the sudden death of a seven year old male elephant on Saturday night while made to participate in a temple festival at Muthuilakad near Sasthamcotta in Kollam district.

In a petition to the Secretary of the Animal Welfare Board of India and the Forest Minister Binoy Viswam, the ELA secretary, V.K. Venkitachalam, said the elephant was made to participate in the programme without the statutory permit from the district collector of Kollam. He said in Kollam district alone, there are more than one hundred captive elephants and the majority of them have no ownership certificates, a mandatory requirement under Section 40 of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972.

Participation of captive elephants in temple festivals is decided as per the whims and fancies of the temple committees and contractors, he alleged. But none of the statutory provisions for the purpose are

adhered to. As per a High Court order in March 2008, permission has to be sought from the respective district collectors at least 72 hours in advance for parading elephants.

He alleged that a section of the veterinarians in Kollam issues permits to elephant owners within and outside Kollam under the pretext that it is the formal order permitting the parading of elephants.

He said the traditional “anavaalpidi” (catching the elephants’s tail) programme scheduled for March 19 at a temple in Kollam is a violation of the Wildlife protection Act, the Performing Animals (Registration) Rules 2001, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 and the Kerala Captive Elephants (Management and Maintenance) Rules 2003.