Former Beatle Paul McCartney broke away from rehearsals for his performance at the London Olympics after he heard from PETA about the plight of a young elephant named Sunder who is being kept in chains and was being beaten at Jyotiba Temple in the Kolhapur district of Maharashtra. The music legend sent an urgent letter to Maharashtra Forest Minister Dr Patangrao Shripatrao Kadam urging him to use his power immediately to rescue the elephant.
“I have seen photographs of young Sunder, the elephant kept alone in a shed at Jyotiba Temple and put in chains with spikes”, wrote McCartney. “Years of his life have been ruined by keeping him and abusing him in this way and enough is enough. I most respectfully call on you to get Sunder out.”
McCartney’s plea follows PETA India’s discovery that Sunder was being abused by his mahout (or handler), who has gone on the run from the police since the group became involved. Sunder sustained a severe injury to his right eye from being jabbed in it with an ankus (a sharp, hooked metal poker-like weapon) by the mahout. The elephant is also confined to chains with sharp spikes and is kept alone inside a dark shed, in which he cannot take even a single step forward or backward. Sunder is denied all that is natural and important to him and lives in fear. There are lesions all over his body, indicating past beatings by the mahout. The elephant was donated to the temple by Maharashtra Member of the Legislative Assembly Vinay Kore.
A scandal is growing over the way some elephants used in Indian temples to represent the Hindu god Ganesha are being housed and mistreated. Frequently controlled through beatings and prodded and gouged in sensitive areas behind their knees and ears with an ankus, they languish without veterinary care for even serious conditions, sustain leg injuries and are fed unsuitable food. Many elephants at Indian temples also show signs of severe psychological distress, such as swaying, head-bobbing or weaving – behaviour not found in healthy elephants in the wild. The lack of exercise and the years spent standing in one position on hard concrete amid their own waste lead to painful and crippling foot ailments and arthritis.
You can help these elephants! Write to Minister of Forests Patangrao Kadam and ask him to help Sunder get to a sanctuary. Take action now!