Kerala turns ‘unsafe’ for captive elephants

The body of Periyanampetta Parameswaran that died at the Periyanampetta temple at Ottappalam sports wound marks.  

Ailments, torture, lack of care, and medical negligence are taking a toll on captive elephants, claim animal rights activists. The death of four animals in the past three weeks has taken the death toll of captive elephants to 14 this year.

The latest being Thripunithura Poornathrayeesan Narayanan, which died on Tuesday at Kokkarni Parambu, Thrissur, where elephants of the Cochin Devaswam Board (CDB) are tethered.

“It had no teeth and had been starving for the past 60 days. The elephant was tethered in dirty surroundings without veterinary care,” alleged V.K. Venkitachalam, secretary, Heritage Animal Task Force.

Another elephant, Periyanampetta Parameswaran, 38, died inside the Periyanampetta temple complex, near Ottappalam, two days ago. Though the elephant had injuries in its hind legs, it was forced to stand on granite floor, the task force complained in a letter to the Director of Project Elephant, Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF).

Elephant Junior Achuthan, 28, of the Guruvayur Devaswom died on June 7 and Aranmula Parthasarathy, 48, of the Travancore Devaswom, died on June 22.

Even after the alarming rise in the number of deaths, the State government is not prepared to conduct a high-level investigation, the task force said.

Impaction (Iranda Kettu) and tuberculosis are the two major reasons for death among elephants, Manilal Valliyate, CEO of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and former co-opted member of the Animal Welfare Board of India, says.

Elephants need to walk minimum 18 hours a day and should drink a lot of water. Absence of exercise, lack of food of their choice, and insufficient water intake can lead to many ailments.

Though Kerala has the most number of captive elephants in the country, no regular surveillance or health check-ups are being conducted, Dr. Manilal said.

“Heavy work, lack of exercise and climate change are the main reasons for the deaths,” said P.B. Giridas, who is on the panel of veterinarians of the Cochin Devaswom Board and Guruvayur Devaswom.

He denied the allegation that medical negligence was leading to the death of elephants.

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Printable version | May 7, 2021 10:02:59 AM |

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