The Madras High Court on Tuesday ordered the shifting of 65-year-old elephant Gomathy of Mahalingaswamy Temple at Tiruvidaimaruthur in Kumbakonam to an elephant camp maintained by the forest department at M.R. Palayam in Tiruchi district. The pachyderm should be shifted within four weeks, the court directed.
A Division Bench of Justices M. Sathyanarayanan and M.M. Sundresh passed the orders after perusing a report filed by elephant expert Ajai Desai who pointed out that keeping an elephant chained to one spot throughout day and night for 57 long years would possibly be the worst punishment that could be given to a highly social animal.
Since captive elephants in the custody of the forest department were given retirement after they grow old, the expert suggested that Gomathy be transferred to the camp. When the temple management said, it had no funds for the transfer, Additional Government Pleader S.V. Vijay Prashanth agreed that the forest department would bear the costs.
In so far as another 50-year-old elephant Avayambal of Mayuranathaswamy Temple in Mayiladuthurai was concerned, the judges sought the response of the temple management to Mr. Desai’s suggestion that the elephant should be allowed to move freely inside a coconut grove in which it had been lodged. During the course of hearing of a case related to shifting of these two elephants, the judges discussed the possibility of finding out the status of all elephants that were kept in captivity in temples, zoos, circuses and in private custody.