PETA Files Case Against Maharashtra Forest Department For Failing To Rescue Abused Young Elephant Sunder

For Immediate Release:
2 December 2013

Sachin Bangera; [email protected]
Mansi Rawal; [email protected]

Group’s Undercover Investigation Found Sunder in Abysmal Conditions Chained in a Dark Poultry Shed

Mumbai – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India has filed a petition with the High Court of Bombay asking the Maharashtra Forest Department (MFD) to implement its previous order – as well as the recommendation from Project Elephant under the Ministry of Environment and Forests – and retire a 14-year-old elephant named Sunder, who spent six years chained at the Jyotiba Temple in Kolhapur, to a sanctuary. Following pressure from PETA, more than 26,200 people who have signed PETA India’s online petition and celebrities such as Pamela Anderson and Paul McCartney, who have written to authorities, the MFD ordered that Sunder be sent to a rehabilitation centre near Bangalore. Instead, he was locked in an old, dark poultry shed and chained at the behest of Vinay Kore, a local member of the Legislative Assembly. Sunder’s body shows visible signs of severe abuse.

“All we’re asking the Maharashtra Forest Department to do is follow its own order”, says PETA India Director of Veterinary Affairs Dr Manilal Valliyate. “Sunder has suffered every day of his life for at least the past six years, and much of that suffering is a direct reflection on Maharashtra Forest Department’s shameless shirking of its duty.”

PETA learned of Sunder’s plight during an investigation in June 2012 that also revealed a hole in his ear that had been caused by an ankus – a heavy rod with a sharp steel hook at the end – in addition to scars all over his body and a severely injured eye that was likely caused by a beating. In August 2012, Sunder became violent and uncontrollable in response to the abuse that he had suffered at the hands of his mahout (handler) and temple authorities, tearing down a pillar and trying to flee. He was subdued and returned to his life in chains. In August 2012, the Maharashtra Minister of Forests, Dr Patangrao Shripatrao Kadam, issued an order for Sunder’s release from this cruel captivity, but the previous Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and current Head of Forest Force, SWH Naqvi, has failed to implement this order, and Sunder remains in misery in an old poultry shed in Warananagar.

Photos from August 2013 show how Sunder is forced to stand on concrete all day and denied exercise, which is essential to his mental and physical well-being. In fact, his current living conditions are so poor that they could predispose him to foot and joint diseases, which could eventually kill him. He’s also small for an elephant of his age and underweight as a result of years of inadequate nutrition.

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