For Immediate Release:
22 April 2013
PCCF and Jyotiba Temple Management Ignored Government Order to Send Elephant to Rehabilitation Centre
Kolhapur – In August 2012, the Maharashtra Forest Minister ordered SWH Naqvi, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) for wildlife, Maharashtra, to move Sunder, the 13-year-old elephant who has been kept chained inside a dark shed at Jyotiba Temple for five years, to a wildlife rehabilitation centre identified by PETA. But the PCCF and temple authorities have not complied with this order or with the Central Zoo Authority’s recommendations for improving Sunder’s living conditions and have instead allowed Vinay Kore, a local member of the legislative assembly (MLA) and the person who donated Sunder to the temple, to reportedly hide him in a dark, heavily guarded poultry shed near a dairy facility at Amrut Nagar (Warananagar), Kolhapur. In response, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India’s lawyer and India’s leading animal advocate, Raj Panjwani, has sent a legal notice to the PCCF, Jyotiba Temple authorities and Kore. The notice gives them seven days to comply with the Forest Minister’s order.
“The Forest Minister’s order was supposed to save Sunder from living out the rest of his life alone, in pain and in chains in the temple’s shed – not to prompt temple authorities to hide him away in an even more cruel environment”, says PETA India Director of Veterinary Affairs Dr Manilal Valliyate. “PETA is calling on Vinay Kore and the temple authorities to take responsibility and ensure that Sunder finally receives the care, space and companionship that elephants so desperately need.”
Sunder has been kept chained by temple authorities since 2007 and has scars covering his body, a severely injured eye that was likely caused by a beating and a hole in his ear that was caused by an ankus, an iron rod with a hook at the end. Constant physical and psychological abuse can cause captive Indian elephants to lash out, as Sunder did in August. He became violent and tore down a pillar as he tried to flee his handlers. He was subdued and returned to captivity.
The Forest Minister’s order came shortly after this incident as a result of a rigorous campaign led by PETA. Former Beatle Paul McCartney and Pamela Anderson also lent their support to the campaign by writing letters to government officials.
A copy of PETA India’s notice against temple management is available upon request. For more information, please visit PETAIndia.com.