After Mahout Is Killed, PETA India Demands Rehabilitation of Elephant and Closure of Illegal Safari Parks

Posted on by Erika Goyal

Following a horrific incident on 20 June in which an elephant called Lakshmi, who became upset by the use of a stick, crushed a mahout to death at an illegally run elephant safari park, PETA India fired off a letter to Kerala’s chief wildlife warden requesting the rehabilitation of the distressed elephant at a sanctuary where she could live free from chains and weapons. PETA India is also calling for the permanent closure of all illegal safari parks in Kerala and the rehabilitation of illegally held elephants.

When elephants attack humans, the animals are typically punished with beatings, which only increases their frustration and distress. PETA India has repeatedly highlighted the dangers associated with using captive elephants. Multiple incidents have been reported already this year: in February, an elephant named Gouri at Amer Fort near Jaipur attacked a Russian tourist, and in the same month, an elephant at Blangad Bhagavathy Temple in Chavakkad injured four people. In March, in Pattambi near Palakkad, an elephant brought there for a temple festival ran amok, injuring one human, causing the death of two cows, and damaging property. In another incident in March during the Arattupuzha Pooram festival in Thrissur, one elephant charged at and chased another, causing severe panic among thousands of devotees, including children, who ran for safety. In April, at a ceremony at TV Puram Sree Ramaswami Temple in Vaikom near Kottayam, an elephant attacked and killed a mahout, and in the same month in West Bengal, a mahout was killed at the ISKCON Mayapur temple by one of the two elephants kept there.

Many captive elephants in India, including in Kerala, are being held illegally or have been transported from one state to another without permission. Elephants are wild animals, and training them to be used for ceremonies, rides, tricks, and other purposes is done by violently dominating them, including by beating them into submission and using weapons to inflict pain. Many elephants held captive in temples and used for rides suffer from extremely painful foot problems and leg wounds due to being chained on concrete for hours on end. Most of them are denied adequate food, water, veterinary care, and any semblance of a natural life. Under these hellish conditions, many elephants become intensely frustrated and lash out, sometimes killing mahouts, devotees, tourists, or other humans. According to the Heritage Animal Task Force, captive elephants killed 526 people in Kerala in a 15-year period.

PETA India encourages the use of lifelike mechanical elephants or other non-animal means in place of real elephants and advocates for elephants already in captivity to be retired to sanctuaries where they could live unchained and in the company of other elephants, healing psychologically and physically from the trauma of years of isolation, captivity, and abuse.

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