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Kerala has got an elephantine problem brewing.

Thiruvananthapuram Captive elephants are becoming a problem in Kerala during the temple festival season. The season begins in mid-November and ends in the last week May. In the current year, until February 23, the beasts killed 17 people -- 14 mahouts and three others. And many were injured either in the attacks or due to commotion.

By the time the season comes to an end, 45-50 persons have lost their lives and a few hundred maimed. The figures show that elephants owned by private parties are the one losing control and ones owned by temples, especially those managed by the government, are relatively calm.

Private owners treat their elephant as machines. The animals are transported from one festival to the other until the season ends. They are denied proper food and rest. They are paraded for hours under the scorching sun and spend the nights with heavy iron chains fastened to their legs.

Adding to their woes, during the night, clusters of burning torches are held in front of the parading elephants so that the caparison on their heads and other ornaments on them glitter in the dark. And to add to the din, drummers playing for long periods and the loud fireworks at the end of the procession.

"Even the calmest of elephants turn violent under such hostile situations and become marauders,'' said Dr Sreekumar, a veterinarian.

Call for repeal of law

Given the present situation, it seems that the law protecting these animals has been been flouted.

Forest Minister B. Ganesh Kumar, who owns a herd of elephants, and other prominent leaders who own elephants, have demanded a repeal of the law.

"The stress and strain have driven them [elelphants] to madness,'' Dr Sreekumar added.

Picture courtesy Anup K. Venu

Running amok

This elephant which ran amok in Thrissur last week killed a mahout and a motorcyclist and damaged several houses and vehicles.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Feb 27, 2012
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