Ordeal of elephants continues

24 killed in the State so far this year; eight animals battling for life

Updated - December 18, 2016 12:57 pm IST

Published - December 16, 2016 09:23 pm IST - Thrissur:

Be it festival time or lean season, the plight of captive elephants in the State remains the same.

With the death of the elephant Poothrikovil Vinayakan aka Nageri Mana Keshavan at Ottappalam on Thursday, the death toll of captive elephants in the State this year has reached 24. Animal rights activists alleged torture and neglect as reasons for the death. According to Thrissur-based Heritage Animal Task Force, eight more elephants in various parts of the State are battling severe diseases.

“Poothrikovil Vinayakan was transferred from Thrissur to Palakkad last week without considering its ailment. It was suffering from various diseases, including foot disease and tuberculosis. This handicapped elephant was smuggled into Kerala from Bihar in 2007 and was illegally transferred from one person to another, across eight districts,” alleged V.K. Venkitachalam, secretary of the task force.

The elephant had once killed its mahout on a lorry on its way to Kozhikode. Traffic police stopped the lorry when passers-by informed the Koyilandi police station that blood was dripping from the vehicle. Only then did the driver come to know that the elephant had killed the mahout, Mr. Venkitachalam said.

Two weeks before the incident, the elephant had damaged a railway gate, near Guruvayur, when it was forced to participate in a festival parade even during musth, he said. “Whenever the elephant was transferred to a new contractor, new sets of mahouts inflicted wounds in an effort to make it obedient. This elephant is one of the 427 kept by elephant contractors in the State without any ownership certificates,” Mr. Venkitachalam added.

Two other elephants — Cheeroth Rajeev and Adiyattu Ayyappan — are suffering from impaction for the past several weeks. Cheeroth Rajeev is now tethered in a private field near Kaiparambu and Adiyatt Ayyappan is kept at the house of its owner near the Cherumukk temple in Thrissur city, the task force said.

According to animal rights activists, Thiruvambady Chandrasekharan, which has been suffering from impaction for the past 16 days, was forced to participate in Thripunithura Vrischikolsavam and was transferred to Palakkad for parading at Ayyappan Vilakku festivals. Now it is kept in a private plot near Mulangunnathukavu railway station.

“Another elephant — Thiruvambady Arjunan — with severe wounds on its hind legs is undergoing treatment in unhygienic surroundings near the Kausthubham auditorium in Thrissur city. For the past one week, another elephant, Kannan of the Guruvayur Devaswom, has been suffering from impaction. Two elephants of Thiruvambady Devaswom —Ramabhadran and Unnikrishnan — kept at Ambalapuram near Mulangunnathukavu are also suffering from various wounds.”

The Heritage Task Force alleged that Thiruvambady Devaswom was using Lakshmi, a blind elephant, for daily Seeveli three times a day. Due to blindness, the animal frequently hit its head on the pillars of the Thiruvambady temple, the task force said. It is high time the Forest Department initiated a high-level enquiry into man-made cruelties against animals, it said.

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