Successful demo at the Indian High Commission!
A large group of protesters gathered outside the Indian High Commission on Friday 20th April, some wearing chains to symbolize the slavery and abuse of temple elephants. The event attracted much attention and was covered by The Independent in a major exposé on the issue and our campaign, as well as by Indian and Keralan media:
Chained, beaten, whipped and exploited like slaves: The hidden horrors meted out to India’s temple elephants (The Independent)
There was an immediate response in 2 articles in The New Indian Express defending the treatment of the elephants and voicing worries that the protests might affect Kerala’s tourist industry – UK protest against elephant torture may affect tourism prospects in Kerala and Kerala Tourism Department to silence detractors with movies on elephant care and festivals.
Two days after the AFE protest, a major Indian tourism portal published a comprehensive defense of the treatment and care of elephants, painting a rosy picture not borne out in any way by the wretched reality of the elephants’ lives and the suffering they endure.
But most importantly, following the exposé in The Independent, wildlife chiefs in Kerala announced a crackdown on the abusive treatment of captive elephants and issued revised guidelines for their care. Also reported here: THIS INDIAN STATE IS CRACKING DOWN ON CRUELTY TO CAPTIVE ELEPHANTS.
But were these improvements applied? How far did this ‘crackdown’ go in changing abusive treatment? Without any evidence to the contrary, it cannot be stated at all whether things have improved for the elephants.
Thank you to all who came to the protest and helped us to
get our campaign for temple elephants up and running!
Watch this space for more actions coming soon.
Stop the torture of India’s temple elephants
Join us outside the Indian High Commission, London, on 20th April
to call for an end to the brutal treatment of these elephants
The elephants used in India’s temples are subjected to extreme practices of torture throughout their lives. These practices are based on inflicting continual pain, injury and maiming without respite, and are in contravention of India’s strong animal welfare laws that forbid causing pain or suffering to any animal. Indian NGOs and advocates are doing crucial work to push for change and an end to the cruelty, and our campaign in the UK shares the same mission and goals. Our aim is to bring widespread attention to the issue as well as garner international support for a direct appeal to India’s leaders.
We are grateful for the support of SEW (Society for Elephant Welfare) and WRRC (Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre), and to the many other Indian NGOs and individuals who put their names on our open letter to Prime Minister Modi.
A lifetime of suffering
Temple elephants, often stolen from the wild as youngsters, are forced to endure unimaginable cruelty and pain throughout their lives. They are denied adequate water, food, shelter and veterinary care. They are paraded beneath the scorching sun on hot tar roads. Their handlers restrain them by using banned instruments such as bullhooks, and restrain them with heavy shackles around their front and hind ankles. Often the shackles are tightened so severely that they cut through the flesh, causing raw bleeding wounds that are seldom treated. They are forced to run races shackled in chains, with mahouts prodding them with bullhooks and beating them with sticks. They are often forced to stand in the same position 24/7, in their urine and excrement, suffering from foot rot. They are beaten and tortured time and again. This goes on until they die a miserable and painful death. Senior elephants beyond 60 years of age are purposely neglected and abused, so the owners can make hefty insurance claims.
But increasingly elephants are dying at a younger age and in greater numbers. They often cannot survive the unrelenting neglect and torture. In just the past 26 months, 57 died in Kerala alone – 26 in 2016, 20 in 2017, and 11 up until end-March 2018 – and the rate is rising. Sometimes the elephants run amok, unable to stand their torment, and human fatalities are also climbing from these desperate rampages.
Temple elephants are not part of any tradition
The use of elephants in temples and festivals is not part of Indian culture, nor do Hindu scriptures anywhere say that elephants should be used in temple rituals. On the contrary, the brutal treatment of these elephants goes against the core beliefs of Hinduism. How are these two things reconciled? They’re not. Temple elephants have nothing to do with tradition but everything to do with money and greed and maintaining the status quo. They are seen only as commodities, earning huge sums of money for their owners and the temples.
Temples in India are mainly run by devaswom boards appointed by the state government, which has a large stake in the money that temples make. In Kerala, four devaswoms manage nearly 3,000 temples, all under government control; each temple earns the government many millions of rupees. The temples are nothing more than a money-generating, lucrative business portal for the Kerala government.
Exploited under the veneer of culture and religion, elephants are big business. Everyone, from the chief minister downwards, has a stake in the multi-million dollar elephant business.
The terrible suffering of these elephants is arguably the worst case of animal abuse in the world. And it never stops, until the broken creature is finally released by death. How can a country whose laws forbid causing pain and suffering to any animal turn a blind eye to this? Why does the government allow these practices to continue?
INDIA’S SUFFERING ELEPHANTS DESPERATELY NEED YOUR HELP.
PLEASE JOIN OUR PROTEST TO CALL FOR AN END TO THE BRUTALITY AND ABUSE
We will be protesting outside the Indian High Commission, London
on Friday 20th April, 12pm–2pm
Please follow our Facebook event page for details and updates.
This video gives an idea of how Kerala’s temple elephants are routinely treated. This elephant is being punished for not raising its head high enough.
In this video a mahout tortures a temple elephant at Thrissur.