Central Government Orders Kerala To Report On Action Taken Against Cruelty To Elephants During Thrissur Pooram

For Immediate Release:

20 April 2018


Karuvaki Mohanty; [email protected]

Shambhavi Tiwari; [email protected]

Move Comes in Response to PETA India Investigation Revealing Horrendous Abuse

Thrissur – In advance of Thrissur Pooram, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change’s Project Elephant has issued a letter ordering Kerala authorities to enforce the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972; the Guidelines for Care and Management of Captive Elephants, 2008; and The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and to report back on action taken to prevent cruelty to elephants. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India notes that this is a positive step but that only an end to elephant use can eliminate abuse altogether.

The letter refers to the submission of an investigation report by PETA India that revealed rampant cruelty to elephants during the 2017 Thrissur Pooram festival, where elephants with open wounds, painful abscesses, cracked nails, impaired vision, and lameness were paraded. Mahouts were caught hitting the animals with ankuses – illegal weapons with a sharp hook on one end – and wooden sticks. Many elephants were denied access to drinking water, some were forced to walk and stand on hot tar roads for hours with no shade, and many were hobbled with short, heavy chains that severely restricted their movement.

The ministry’s letter, PETA India’s investigation report and photographs of cruelty to elephants during the 2017 Thrissur Pooram festival are available upon request

“Thrissur Pooram is a spectacle of suffering for the elephants who are chained, beaten, and paraded with open wounds,” says PETA India CEO Dr Manilal Valliyate. “Kerala authorities must act in response to the flouting of basic regulations, but forcing elephants to live in temples instead of their jungle homes and to take part in loud, chaotic processions is inherently cruel. Temple authorities would do well to recognise growing public concern over elephant welfare and switch to using mechanical elephants instead.”

PETA India – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment or abuse in any other way” – notes that the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, prohibits capturing an elephant, yet many captive elephants are thought to have been caught illegally in the wild. As many as 289 elephants are being held in Kerala without valid ownership certificates. Elephants are also protected by numerous recent court orders:

  • In an 18 April 2015 order, the Supreme Court stated that if any owner, organiser, or festival or temple coordination committee treated elephants cruelly, the offender would be held liable for contempt.
  • The High Court of Kerala, in an order dated 14 April 2016, directed that “[n]o elephant which is found unfit to participate in the ceremonial parade shall be utilised and the district magistrate will ensure that use of any such animal is clearly excluded.”
  • In 2010 and 2015, respectively, the Rajasthan High Court and the Chief Wildlife Warden of Kerala prohibited the use of iron ankuses.

For more information, please visit PETAIndia.com.