For Immediate Release:
8 December 2021
Hiraj Laljani; [email protected]
Monica Chopra; [email protected]
Bhopal – Following reports that an emaciated female elephant named Lakshmi was being forced to beg on the streets of Chhatarpur in Madhya Pradesh last week, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India launched a campaign with the support of local activists and volunteers to rescue her, as she needs urgent veterinary care along with food and water. The group points out that Lakshmi, whose bones are protruding, is extremely unwell but is forced to walk on hot tarred roads for begging in violation of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972; The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960; and central government guidelines.
Photographs and video of Lakshmi are available upon request.
Based on the complaint by PETA India and local volunteers on 1 December, Lakshmi was taken to the local forest department office at Bada Malhera. The group’s veterinarians concluded that she is suffering from chronic pain (evident from her arched back and shifting of bodyweight from one leg to the other while resting), severe lameness, deformity of the legs (likely caused by degenerative joint diseases), and abscesses on both hips.
“People keeping wild animals such as elephants in custody are usually simply unaware of their needs – and even those who are aware of their needs are unable to meet them because it’s impossible to do so in a captive, unnatural environment,” says PETA India Chief Advocacy Officer Khushboo Gupta. “To make matters worse, captive elephants are kept nearly constantly chained and controlled through threats and violence. PETA India is calling on the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department to end Lakshmi’s misery by rescuing and rehabilitating her at a sanctuary where she can live unchained in the company of other elephants and get immediate care.”
Concern about Lakshmi’s abuse highlights the plight of elephants used for begging, rides, and performances in India. Frequently controlled through beatings and prodded and gouged in sensitive areas behind their knees and ears with an ankus, they often languish without veterinary care and are fed unsuitable food. Many suffer from painful foot rot and leg wounds from constantly rubbing against chains. A majority of captive elephants also show signs of severe psychological distress – such as swaying, head-bobbing, and weaving – behaviour not found in healthy elephants in nature. Frustrated captive elephants commonly harm or kill their mahouts or others around them.
As revealed by many Animal Welfare Board of India inspections and the reports of state forest departments, most of the elephants in the country are being held illegally, since their custody has been transferred without necessary approval from the forest departments or they’ve been transported to a different state without permission.
PETA India – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment” – opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information about PETA India, please visit PETAIndia.com or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.