[Watch] Chained, Bruised & Starved; Kerala HC To Decide Tortured Elephant’s Fate
The Logical Indian Crew Kerala
December 18th, 2018 / 4:47 PM
Images Credits: The News Minute
Based on an online report of ill-treating Neelakandan, a temple elephant, the Kerala High Court took suo moto cognisance against the Sree Dharma Sastha temple, in Kollam. The temple comes under the administration of Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB). A video was captured by a PFA member that showed the pathetic condition of the animal which led to the case, reported The News Minute.
URGENT CALL TO ACTION:-Elephant Neelakandan,A Temple elephant from Sasthamkotta temple,Kollam district,of Kerala is once again requiring urgent assistance. The Travancore Devaswom board, who own Neelakandan are once again treating Neelakandan really badly. The mahouts (elephant carer) have chained him so tightly by the front and back legs that he is unable to balance properly, whatsmore the mahouts are not cleaning his shelter and there is a massive build-up of dung. BACKGROUND to Neelankandan’s appalling state of neglect:-Last year there was a Call to Action and an on-line petition to help Neelakandan, which the Kerala Forest Dept responded to. As a result the Tavancore Devaswom Board were forced to provide medical treatment for Neelakandan, and his health improved. However, he still suffers from neurologically damaged legs, which means he is in unable to balance correctly. So for the mahouts to chain Neelankandan’s so tightly by front and back legs exacerbates Neelankandan’s imbalance. Also, would cause immense pain. HOW THE FOREST DEPT CAN HELP NEELAKANDAN:-The call to action is to request the Forest Dept to send their Forest Dept Flying Squad rangers to immediately unchain Neelakandan and to provide a comprehensive medical examination and urgent medical treatment, and for the Forest Dept to file charges of animal cruelty against the Travancore Devaswom. Also request that Neelakandan is confiscated by the Forest Dept and taken to an elephant sanctuary or relief centre where he will be kept unchained at all times, and be cared for by properly trained and caring staff. We also will request that the Forest Dept file charges of animal cruelty against the Travancore Devaswom.Please send 1 bulk email to the following email addresses:-To:- email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com CC:- firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Re:- REQUEST URGENT MEDICAL ATTENTION FOR ELEPHANT NEELAKANDAN.Dear Sirs,It was has been brought to my attention that elephant Neelakandan is once again in need of urgent medical attention by the Forest Dept Flying Squad division.As you are aware last year Neelakandan was exposed to horrific neglect and cruelty by his owner – the Travancore Devaswom. The Forest Dept very kindly responded and Neelakandan recovered, but was left with neurological issues which affects his balance.Once again the Travancore Devaswom has subjected elephant Neelakandan to horrific cruelty, by tightly chaining his front and back legs, which exacerbates Neelakandan’s neurological imbalance. This is also causing him immense pain and unnecessary suffering. His shelter where is kept chained is in need of urgent cleaning as it is over-run by Neelakandan’s dung and urine. Please see the video evidence.This is the Third time that we have witnessed neglect and cruelty by Travancore Devaswom towards Neelakandan and therefore from that can deduce that their intention is not to care for Neelakandan correctly. Therefore we know that by keeping him at Travancore Devaswom he runs a very high risk of been continually abused and neglected by the Travancore Devaswom.I respectfully request that you send the Forest Dept Flying Squad Rangers to provide immediate medical assistance to Neelakandan. Please would you also permanently confiscate Neelakandan and permanently retire him to an elephant sanctuary or relief centre where he be provided with the proper appropriate care for his neurological condition. Thanking you for your time.Yours sincerelyYour name and country of residence.
Rajeev N Kurup ಅವರಿಂದ ಈ ದಿನದಂದು ಪೋಸ್ಟ್ ಮಾಡಲಾಗಿದೆ ಭಾನುವಾರ, ಡಿಸೆಂಬರ್ 9, 2018
The video that was captured two weeks ago, showed large wounds in the rear and the front leg of the elephant. The 20-year-old Neelakandan could not stand properly because of the injuries and was trying to shift his body weight to the other leg. He looked weak as if he has not been fed for weeks.
A people for Animals (PFA) member saw the distressed animal while he was feeding an injured dog in the temple premises. “But since the visit was during night time, he could not understand the exact situation. Next morning, he shot videos, from which we understood the real plight of the elephant,” said Sreedevi S Kartha, a PFA member, TNM reported.
All the injuries on the elephant were the result of torture and harassment as if he was beaten up with knives and sticks. “His front left leg is also damaged, which makes his movements painful. If the wounds had been treated on time, he could have been cured,” Sreedevi added.
Reportedly, he was tied up during his musth period (behavioural change in male elephants, during their mating period). But even after his musth period, he was not freed.
The High Court hearing and PFA demands
After observing the awful condition of Neelakandan, the PFA activist met K Raju, Minister of Forest and Wildlife Protection. Later, the minister directed PK Keshav, Chief Wildlife Warden, to take action over the issue. And CWW, in turn, asked Forest Range Officer in Kollam to take care of the matter.
The court hearing is scheduled on Tuesday. According to PFA, the elephant should be handed over to the Forest Department, since, Devaswom Board failed to provide care and protection to the animal. PFA has asked for expert doctors for treatments from Delhi for Neelakandan and demanded that he should be shifted to Kottur elephant sanctuary.
Reportedly, the PFA also spoke about the time when a panel of doctors from both Devaswom Board and Forest Department had said that treating the elephant will be difficult. All elephants are tied during their musth period but they are freed and treated right after their musth period gets over. But, in Neelakanda’s case, it was different. He allegedly was left tied up and was ignored for years which made his condition even worse, said TNM report.
Latha Indira of PFA said that it would be beneficial for the elephant if he is shifted to Kottur. “It will also have to be checked if it will be practical to shift the elephant to the hospital in Delhi,” she added. Latha also said that their actions on this issue will be based on the court’s decision.
While Neelakanda waits for court decision, Rohini joins rejuvenation camp
Rohini, an elephant who was illegally possessed by a man for several years has now reached Annamalai with Virudhunagar forest to join 48-day long rejuvenation camp for elephants. She will be kept in isolation for one week for veterinarians to understand her health condition. This decision was taken by Anamalai Tiger Reserve (ATR) field director D Ganesan for the safety of the animals being maintained at Kozhikamuthi and Chinnar, reported The New Indian Express.
“We will allow her to mingle with other elephants only after she is free from any disease. This will be known only after assessing her health,” Ganesan said.
Pathetic condition of captive elephants in India
As per a government data, India has about 3,500 elephants in captivity- in forest camps, zoos, temples, travel and tourism, etc., reported Hindustan Times. These elephants are ill-treated and suffer the most in temples and the tourism sector. However, their condition is slightly better in forest camps.
According to Suparna Ganguly of Compassion Unlimited Plus Action (CUPA), 73 captive elephants in Kerala and 5 in Tamil Nadu have died since 2016.
“The data for captive elephants in India, that is available, is 20 years old. The recent data is yet to come on 31 December as the Supreme court has directed all the states to get the number of elephants,” she added while talking to The Logical Indian.
She also said that many temples fail to provide proper infrastructure to take care of elephants. “They cannot afford to give nutritious-wholesome diet to these “complex” animals. They also need to walk and socialize every day, which they cannot do if captivated and isolated,” she added.
These elephants have never seen wildlife. They have been captured since they were babies. “They will probably die if we leave them in jungles. That’s the reason forest camps are working hard to fulfil at least half of their needs,” said Ganguly.
The Logical Indian Take
There are many laws for the protection of elephants apart from the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. Prevention of Cruelty of Animals Act, 1960, also states the guidelines for the welfare of captive elephants. But what government lacks here is proper implementation and strict actions.
“The government should not move the elephants from good confinements to bad ones, which has now stopped to some extent. But what has not stopped is illegal possession. Even though everyone knows about the illegal sale and purchase, they choose to keep their eyes closed and mouth shut,” said Ganguly.
There are many animals like Neelakandan and Rohini who suffer physical and mental torture every day. While the government can take strict actions for the abuse they go through, we, on the other hand, can avoid enjoying elephant back rides and dangerous stunts they perform for our entertainment. The Logical Indian believes that it is not just the government’s responsibility to protect them, but also, the owners need to realise on their own that what they are doing is wrong.
Written by : Anukriti Ganesh (Student, IIJNM)
Edited by : Poorbita Bagchi