Trouble for owners of elephant Lakshmi

In what appears to be fresh trouble for the owners of elephant Lakshmi, the Sri Manakula Vinayagar Temple Trust, the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has sent a report to the Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden, Puducherry, recommending that the elephant be rehabilitated to a forested sanctuary owing to concerns about its health, and also pointing to ‘illegal ownership.’

The AWBI has also asked for an Action Taken Report.

The AWBI-authorised inspection report highlights the physical and mental ‘suffering’ of Lakshmi. It states that Lakshmi displays behaviour typical of mental stress and that she suffers from ‘foot rot on all legs.’ The report states that the mahout used an ‘ankush’ (a metal hook instrument) to control the elephant, causing pain and injury. In a new revelation, it said that the elephant was bought by the temple trust from a person in Kerala in 1997, a clear violation of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 which prohibits such trade. Thus far, it had been understood that the elephant was donated to the temple. Allegations of cruelty and poor treatment were raised by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) a while ago.

G. Sathiyamoorthy, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Department of Forests and Wildlife, said that the AWBI inspection report has been forwarded to the authorities at the Sri Manakula Vinayagar Temple, and the recently-formed Puducherry State Animal Welfare Board, with regard to the issue of ownership as raised in the report.

Mr. Sathiyamoorthy said that the ‘guidelines for care and management of captive elephants’ issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change are now being followed with the elephant’s enclosure having soil flooring, and subscribing to the prescribed floor area. He added that issues regarding cruelty as outlined in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 is under the purview of the Puducherry State Animal Welfare Board. Doctors at the rejuvenation camp in Thekkampatti, Coimbatore district, which Lakshmi had attended earlier this year, said that the foot rot had been healing, he said. Vinod Kumaar, Assistant Secretary, AWBI, said, “We are awaiting the Action Taken Report. As it is a wild animal, it is the State’s forest and wildlife department which has to act. Lakshmi’s condition is a matter of serious concern. We have recommended that the elephant is confiscated and rehabilitated in a protected area. Of course, as a captive elephant, Lakshmi will not survive in the wild. There are places like the Elephant Conservation and Care Centre, Mathura, Uttar Pradesh.”

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Printable version | Aug 6, 2022 10:43:25 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/trouble-for-owners-of-elephant-lakshmi/article7296462.ece