Supreme Court: Cruelty to Elephants Used for Festivities in Kerala Will Amount to Contempt of Court

For Immediate Release:
13 May 2015

Dr Manilal Valliyate; [email protected]
Sachin Bangera; [email protected]

AWBI Inspection Finds Wounded, Diseased and Suffering Elephants Used Without Government Permission During Thrissur Pooram

Delhi – Following an inspection by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) with veterinarians and other inspectors from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India, Animal Rahat and Heritage Animal Task Force that revealed apparently illegal conduct and abuse of elephants at the Thrissur Pooram event held in Kerala on 29 and 30 April 2015, the Supreme Court of India today directed that no elephants used during poorams (festivals) should be treated with cruelty. If any owner, organiser, festival or temple coordination committee treats elephants cruelly, they will be held liable for contempt of the Supreme Court order. The matter was brought before the Court in an intervention application filed by co-opted member of the AWBI Gauri Maulekhi, who was represented by Senior Advocate Siddharth Luthra in a writ petition filed by the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre and others. The AWBI was represented by Advocate Ajit Sharma.

The AWBI’s report of cruelty to elephants during the recent Thrissur Pooram event and high-resolution photographs are available upon request from PETA.

The AWBI’s inspection of the recent Thrissur Pooram event revealed that weapons were used against the elephants and that many of them suffered from painful abscesses, injuries from constant chaining, impaired vision, wounds that were deliberately hidden with black material and signs of mental illness caused by prolonged stress. The inspection also notes that pooram organisers had not obtained the mandatory permission from the AWBI to use these elephants. During the event, the animals were also chained by all four legs and forced to stand for many hours, with no protection from the hot sun and insufficient food and drinking water.

“Elephant suffering and abuse was on display at this year’s Thissur Pooram event, where chained, injured and even partially blind elephants were exposed to fireworks, loud drumming and a crowd of thousands – all without official permission for their use”, says PETA India Chief Executive Officer Poorva Joshipura. “PETA look forward to seeing this order enforced in Kerala.”

Although it’s illegal to beat and torture animals, elephants forced to participate in parades and poorams are trained through physical punishment and the constant threat of being struck with a stick or an ankus (a weapon with a sharp metal hook on the end). Capturing an elephant is prohibited under the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, yet many captive elephants are thought to have been captured illegally from the wild, which PETA India – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment” – are working to stop.

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