Kerala

Book on plight of Kerala’s temple elephants hits the shelves

Cover page of ‘Gods in Shackles - What Elephants Can Teach Us About Empathy, Resilience and Freedom’

Cover page of ‘Gods in Shackles - What Elephants Can Teach Us About Empathy, Resilience and Freedom’ | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

A book that chronicles the plight and travails of Kerala’s temple elephants (captive elephants) has hit the shelves, once again inviting the attention of the international community to the miseries faced by the gentle giants.

Gods in Shackles What Elephants Can Teach Us About Empathy, Resilience and Freedom, written by Indo-Canadian wildlife filmmaker and biologist Sangita Iyer, tells the tale of the predicament of captive elephants in the State, while also detailing the author’s journey into the making of her documentary film Gods in Shackles.

The book, which became #1 Amazon Bestseller under the Animal Rights category twice in the past two months, is now available in bookstores across the country as well as on Amazon India website.

It is not just an account of her experience during the filming of the multiple award-winning documentary, but also carries the author’s views and vision to free elephants from the slavery of the entertainment industry.

The work also makes an argument against exploitation of elephants in the name of culture and religion. “Culture has become commercialised, and misguided myths and beliefs are pervading the society, driving people to act in ways that would be scorned upon by any God. How would the Creator be happy when its creations are traumatised and abused,” Ms. Iyer asks in the book.

She also draws parallels between the treatment of elephants and women, while highlighting the nexus of corruption, commerce and politics that “prevents progress.”

It was on June 29, 2016 that her film gained much attention in the State after the then Speaker of Kerala’s Legislative Assembly P. Sreeramakrishnan screened the documentary in the Assembly. Later, a private screening was arranged for Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and his party members at his residence.

However, six years on, the plight of festival elephants has only worsened, Ms. Iyer said. “While I honour the Indian culture and traditions, I cannot condone the barbaric treatment of elephants. They deserve dignity and reverence enshrined in all religious scriptures,” Ms. Iyer told The Hindu.

She also thanked the Chief Minister for finding the time to read the book which she believes will be “a subtle endorsement” for her cause.

The foreword for the book was written by noted chimpanzee conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, Founder, the Jane Goodall Institute.


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Printable version | May 25, 2022 8:11:36 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/book-on-plight-of-keralas-temple-elephants-hits-the-shelves/article65460463.ece