Season of death for Kerala’s captive jumbos

Elephants are taken long distances for temple festivals. A scene in Thrissur. —Photo: K.K. Najeeb  

Some of Kerala’s captive elephants are not left to lick their wounds after the torture they underwent during the now-concluded temple festival season in the State. Eleven of them died in the past six months, nine of them subjected to brutal torture, activists say.

During the lean season now, poor food and sheer neglect have pushed the elephants into misery, they add.

The Director of Project Elephant forwarded a complaint by the Thrissur-based Heritage Animal Task Force and animal-welfare activists to the Chief Wildlife Warden of the State on June 12, a day after the last of the deaths. Project Elephant, which functions under the Union Environment and Forests Ministry, has sought a report, which is yet to materialise. The activists say that after the festival season, the animals are left to fend for themselves.

No valid ownership certificates

“None of the dead elephants had valid ownership certificates. All of them were forced to stand in the open without proper shelter at the time of their death. Severe torture, unscientific diagnosis and treatment for their ailments and a lack of care and food had led to the death of these elephants,” says V.K. Venkitachalam, secretary, Heritage Animal Task Force.

Citing the death of an elephant near here on June 10, Mr. Venkitachalam alleges that the animal was paraded during festivals with wounds all over the body.

“Many of these elephants are kept at unauthorised elephant-care centres, managed by purported veterinarians who do not have any degree issued by an authentic institution. Many of these centres do not sport even a name board, or show details of certificates issued by the State government or the Union Ministry,” the task force says.

The activists allege that mahouts injure the elephants often. Many of the mahouts still wield the banned ankus, a goad, they say.

Parading blind and injured elephants for festivals, in violation of Forest Department guidelines, is common in the State.

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Printable version | Sep 18, 2021 6:36:39 PM |

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