It’s time we seriously considered the safety of deploying elephants at public functions and festivals. I say this with particular reference to the recent incident in Kerala, where one of the 13 tuskers on parade at an annual festival, suddenly went out of control and killed the mahout. Over 24 people were injured. Many temples around the country deploy elephants for religious ceremonies. In jungle resorts and game sanctuaries, elephants are used to carry people around the forest. At the elephant festival in Rajasthan, one can even see elephant races and elephant polo. At several exhibitions and zoos, elephant rides are offered to visitors. Elephants are even rented for ceremonial functions and for marriages. One shudders at the thought of the kind of cruelty that is inflicted on the animals at the time of taming and training them and even later, in keeping them in chains and forcing them to do things that they are not meant to. Given the fact that elephants in such circumstances are brought into environments that are alien to them, it is no wonder that they go berserk at times.The bright lights, the loud music, the crowds and their noise, the mobile phones, the blaring of automobile horns, the din of road traffic — they are all enough to drive an animal insane. In February this year, an elephant ran amok in Koyilandy town in Kerala and it took the authorities several hours to shoot transquilisers into the animal and bring it under control. In the same month, at an elephant polo tournament in Sri Lanka, an elephant suddenly got angry, threw off its mahout and a rider and then crushed a mini bus with its head. In May last year, at Tripunithura in Kerala, an elephant went berserk and was finally brought under control after a nine-hour drama full of tension. In 2003, a 23-year-old pachyderm, Thayal Nayaki, spread terror at a crowded temple in Kerala when it suddenly lifted and threw away the 50-year-old mahout sitting on its back. Remember the case of Dr Mayi Gowda that came up before the apex consumer court some years ago? A joy ride on an elephant at the Dussehra festival in Mysore robbed Dr Gowda of his sight. The elephant just picked up Dr Gowda, sitting on its back and threw him — resulting in several broken ribs and severe head injuries. Should we take this kind of risk? Isn’t the use of these animals, particularly at functions and programmes where large crowds gather, a safety hazard? Shouldn’t we let the pachyderms live in peace in their natural habitat? It’s time we seriously pondered over these questions.

Share this

Related Posts

Next Post »