Tamil Nadu

Temple elephant dies a natural death

 Rest in peace: Devotees pay homage to Rajeshwari, a temple elephant of Arulmigu Sugavaneswarar Temple, in Salem on Saturday.

Rest in peace: Devotees pay homage to Rajeshwari, a temple elephant of Arulmigu Sugavaneswarar Temple, in Salem on Saturday.

A sense of gloom pervaded Salem city and other parts of the district on Saturday following the death of 42-year-old Rajeswari, the elephant of Arulmigu Sugavaneswarar temple in the city.

The elephant had been ill for some time. The end came at 12.20 p.m., a senior official of the Animal Husbandry Department told The Hindu .

Rajeswari attracted country-wide attention when an animal lover filed a public interest litigation petition in the Madras High Court seeking permission to euthanise Rajeswari since she had been suffering for a long time including from abscess on her right hip and elbow, as well as arthritis.

On April 16, the High Court ordered that she should be euthanised if a local government veterinarian certified that it would be cruel to keep the ailing animal alive any longer.

Following this, a team of veterinary specialists from the Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (Tanuvas) inspected the elephant a couple of days ago and the report was submitted to the court.

Rohini R. Bhajibhakare, District Collector, told presspersons that the animal had died a natural death, despite a team of veterinary specialists trying their best to save her. Ms. Rohini said that a team of specialists had examined the animal on the direction of the High Court. Their report favoured continuation of the treatment, which was forwarded to the High Court.

Final moments

The elephant was feeling normal on Saturday morning and K. Gopi, a veterinary specialist attached to the State Animal Husbandry Department and one of the members of the team of specialists offering treatment round the clock, was monitoring its condition.

Sources at the animal husbandry department said that the animal took a few tender coconuts. The doctor dressed her wounds.

Usually the wound dressing exercise is carried out every day without chaining the animal. As Rajeswari was found a little restless on Saturday, the dressing exercise was carried out after chaining her.

The sources said that on noticing rigorous movement in the hind leg, the doctor rushed towards the animal. Rajeswari was showing symptoms of respiratory distress. Dr. Gopi immediately alerted the other members of the specialists team and gave emergency medication. He also tried cardio-resuscitation, but it did not help in reviving the animal. The elephant collapsed at 12.20 p.m.

Forelimbs affected

It may be recalled that Rajeswari suffered lameness on the right forelimb last month. The animal had suffered from deformation in the left forelimb for many years, due to which she could stand only on the right forelimb all these years. This resulted in the right forelimb lameness.

A team of veterinary specialists drawn from the State Forest Department and Tanuvas had been treating the animal. Ever since the treatment commenced, the elephant has been lying down on the ground as she could not stand.

Ms. Rohini, S. Loganathan, Regional Joint Director of Animal Husbandry, senior officials of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR and CE) Department paid homage to Rajeswari at her spacious shed at Gorimedu.

Devotees pay homage

As the news of the death of the animal spread, a large number of devotees from different parts of Salem district, including women, rushed to the spot and paid their last respects by laying garlands and wreaths.

The priests of the temple conducted tirumanjana abhishekam and laid a silk shawl on the animal.

Later, a team of specialists led by Balasubramanian, Dean, Veterinary College and Research Institute, Namakkal, conducted the autopsy on the carcass. Her body was buried at the Gorimedu premises later in the evening.

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Printable version | Jun 30, 2022 7:46:59 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/temple-elephant-dies-a-natural-death/article23632219.ece