Tuesday, June 2, 2009

An elephantine problem

With just around 25,000 elephants left in the world, the protection of this gentle creature has become all the more important.
However, the animal continues to be trapped and killed for statisfying man's unending demand for ivory and even ritualistic purpose.
Even as he loves the animal, elephants continue to die all across the state either from ill treatment by the mahouts or as happened in the case of Kottarakkara Krishnankutty, which died on Sunday, because of neglect by the owners, in this case the Travancore Dewsom Board.
During the festival season in Kerala, all temples take out processions of elephants with the main diety throught the length of the land they are situated in. And it also happens to the season when most of the male elephants are in mustch.
On one occassion while travelling from Thrissur to Guruvayoor, this writer counted 14 elephants being marched to various temples on one sunny day four years ago. Much recently, there have been at least 12 cases of elephants running out control and causing extensive damages before they were shot and later died.
Elephants are not supposed to be taken from one place to another by walk through the hot tarred roads. They have to be transported in lorries with adequate barricades. But these regulations are observered more in the breach. There have been cases of elephants falling off such lorries and hurting themslves. In one recent case a vehicle rammed into an elephant while it was being taken to the owners house. The accident turned fatal with the animal dying a week later despite best efforts by doctors. It's hind legs were damaged and could not stand up. Later a crane was used to help it stand but the efforts failed.
Even as I acknowledge that the Thrissur Pooram would be incomplete with the customary 30 elephants, do you think that elephant god Ganesha would be happy with such wanton ill-treatment of this beautiful creature?
As much as I am for contining with the customs and rituals that are unique to God's Own Country (because I love the colour and splendour of all those festivals even though many may think it is very feudal) I hate this ill-treatment meted out to this magnificient creature.
Even though selling and buying of this animal is banned under law this continues unhindered. The elephant lovers of this land should voice their protest against this continuing apathy towards this animal. All wild animals belong to the wilderness and we have no right to capture it and domesticate it.
Where are those people for ethical treatment of animals? Are they only against the use of leather and fur?
Despite warnings by elephants lovers and enacting of numerous acts for the protection of wild life, elephants continue to be ill-treated.

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