Animal rights activists ring alarm bells over treatment of elephants in Kerala
Rana,a one-year-old elephant was rescued from Kasaragod in 2013 where she was found trapped in a barbed wire fencing in an agricultural area. She sustained injuries all over her body.
Saved by the locals who spotted her, she was brought to the elephant rehabilitation camp in Kottur, 40kms from Thiruvananthapuram. Now four years old, she is healthy, cheerful and playful.
FINALLY FOUND A HOME
Each one of the twelve elephants at this camp of the forest department, have a story like that of Rana's. From the youngest 3 month old Poorna who is recovering from her injuries after falling into a pit, to the oldest 70 yr old Mani, they either get lost loosing their way from their herds or are sometimes abandoned.
But now they have a home away from the wild where they are bathed, fed and then let out into the wild for a walk, chain-less and free.
"We treat them well and take care of them but don't let them back into the wild because they cannot be adapt that easily. We let them free and give them the atmosphere of the wild. With some we can't always do that because they are restless and may turn dangerous," says TS Sukesan, deputy warden, Kerala Forest Department.
But not all jumbos in Kerala are this lucky. In the land with temple festivals where the elephant is mostly an inseparable part of the tradition, some elephants that are paraded, are often threatened, beaten and tortured. At least 18 such elephants died in the state this year.
"16 of them were young. Only two of them died a natural aged death. The eighteenth one this year died today in Kottayam. It was paraded during the recent Ganesha Chathurthi celebrations even though it was ill," said Rajeev N Kurup, animal rights activist. The two contrary pictures come from the same place often referred to as god's own country. While one sets the example, the other continues to be a long standing fight between tradition and animal rights.