This is the season of festivals in Kerala and the cruellest months for elephants. At a time when God’s own country celebrates annual festivals, the plight of captive elephants is not so good.
According to a report by Deccan Chronicle, 20 captive elephants were killed in 2017, and most of the incidents happened in an around temple festivals. The report indicates that 18 of the 20 elephants belong to the age of below 50, 11 are below 40 and seven are below 30.
“If the young are dying, it is high time we looked into the cause of these deaths. It is not just enough to conduct a post-mortem and say that the elephant was ill,” prominent elephant expert and former director of Kerala Forest Research Institute Dr Easa said to Deccan Chronicle.
“They have to look at it as a wild elephant, and assess the quality of food, water, shade and rest they are provided,” she added.
V.K. Venkitachalam, Heritage Animal Task Force general secretary, alleged that even postmortems were not carried out properly. “In many cases, the post-mortem reports were submitted way after the 30-day deadline,” he added.
Elephants in Kerala festivals
The state exhibits elephants during festivals, especially during Thrissur Pooram, exposing them to loud fireworks and making them stand on hot tar road. The famous Guruvayur temple has more than 60 elephants. World’s only Elephant Palace is constructed at Punnathur Kotta. Elephants carry the deity during temple festivals. People and temples own more around 700 elephants, and they are rented out for more than 10,000 festivals and processions.
Gods in Shackles
A documentary named ‘Gods in Shackles’ has exposed the atrocities against elephants in the southern state. The documentary was directed and produced by Sangita Iyer, a native of Kerala and an award-winning journalist.