The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has refuted the allegations of the Kerala Elephant Owners Federation that the board had recommended mercy killing for three elephants.
In a recent press release, the owners’ federation had alleged that the AWBI has recommended mercy killing of three elephants – Lakshmi and Ramabhadran of Thiruvambadi Devaswom, and Thiruvegappura Devanarayanan belonging to a private owner.
Refuting the allegations, Manilal Valliyate, AWBI co-opted member and member of the Kerala State Animal Welfare Board, said that the board had recommended euthanasia only for Ramabhadran.
“During inspection last year, the AWBI team found that Thiruvambadi Ramabhadran was in severe pain, distress and in extremely poor condition due to the paralysis of its trunk and its condition was irreversible. The elephant was not able to take food or water on its own. It was not flapping its ears, a usual practice of elephants for thermoregulation. It had multiple chronic wounds on its body, some of which were gangrenous. The team also noticed lack of basic veterinary care, poor upkeep and management. The elephant showed symptoms of progressive weight loss and anorexia,” Dr. Manilal said.
The team recommended euthanasia for the elephant as per guidelines of ‘Euthanasia in Elephants’ issued by Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. The team also recommended that the AWBI request the Chief Wildlife Warden, Kerala, to immediately constitute a panel of veterinary experts for taking a decision regarding euthanasia for Ramabhadran.
The AWBI team comprising Rakesh Chittora, Senior Veterinary Trainer, Animal Rahat, Snagali; M.N. Jayachandran, SPCA president, Idukki; and Subrahmanian Santhakumar, AWBI trustee, also found that Lakshmi of Thiruvambadi Devaswom had no vision in its left eye.
The team had recommended the AWBI to request the State Chief Wildlife Warden to move Lakshmi to any Forest Department-run elephant sanctuary where she could get proper care, Dr. Manilal noted.
According to the AWBI report, the team found another elephant, Thiruvambadi Unnikrishnan, had severe wounds on its body and recommended that it be moved to a sanctuary or to assign an expert veterinarian for its treatment.
The AWBI report on Thiruvegappura Devanarayanan noted that the elephant had wounds on both hind legs and in the left hip region. There was no proper ownership certificate for the elephant and there was also confusion over its owner.
The team recommended that the elephant be shifted to a proper rehabilitation centre.
The team, which found multiple violations of law, rule and guidelines, recommended cancellation of ownership certificates and the registration of the elephants belonging to errant owners.
Lack of response
Dr. Manilal also alleged that the State Forest Department seldom responded to the directives of the Director of the Project Elephant under the MoEF seeking action taken report on death of elephants.
In all 26 captive elephants had died in 2016. One elephant had already died since the beginning of the new year.