Prohibit the Use of Temple Elephants in India!

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Respected Supreme Court of India and Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde,

The Nation is aware of the heinous act that involved the brutal assault, grievous injury, and unprovoked murder of a Pregnant Elephant in Kerala, who we know as 'Saumya'. The citizens of this nation are saddened but infuriated at the psychopathic nature of this act, which if done to a human, would be categorized as a 'rarest of the rare' criminal offense.

As per media reports, an investigation is underway for this unsettling incident that is churning our stomachs and clogging our airways, as we read more and more about the disturbing line of events, however, an investigation or a high-level team is not an end-point. 

We would like to draw attention to the outrageously high number of Elephant deaths reported from the state of Kerala due to the Temple festivities where they are used and abused. Footage has revealed that Temple Elephants are beaten with bullhooks, made to walk for long hours in hot and humid climates, amongst the deafening sounds of loud and unnerving music. A countless number of times, such elephants, have been known to run amok, in fear and uncertainty of their surroundings, leading to loss of life and damage to property.

As per the latest official figures, approximately 2500 Elephants are in captivity across India, and out of this, close to 1687 Elephants are held by individual owners- that is roughly 68% of the captive elephants in India. 

In 2019, a total of 34 Captive Elephants died only in the state of Kerala, mostly due to injuries and erandakettu, a kind of indigestion caused by long hours of standing, with no exercise. If we may point out, injuries to a captive elephant cannot be a result of natural or man-made mistakes, they are intentional, and erandakettu is also a health-condition faced typically in captivity.

The Indian Elephant is a Schedule 1 Animal of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 which particularly states that it is prohibited to possess, acquire, dispose of and transport a captive elephant without written permission of the Chief Wildlife Warden or the Authorized officer under the WPA, 1972.

Yet, 1687 Elephants in India are held in possession by individual owners. 

The loophole, as you may be aware of, arises in this sub-section:

Sub section (2A), Section 40: No person other than a person having a certificate of ownership, shall, after the commencement of Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act, 2002, acquire, keep in his control, custody or possession any captive animal, animal article, trophy or uncured trophy specified in Schedule I or Part II of Schedule II, except by way of inheritance.

As citizens of a country that recognizes "Ahimsa" or "Non-violence" as one of its core values, we demand that this reflects in the way we treat our non-human animals. Elephants should not be chained or held captive. They are sentient beings with a high emotional and intelligence quotient, and should be recognized as such.

We, as citizens of India, urge the Government of Kerala, the Government of India and the Respected Supreme Court to take immediate action and prohibit the Use of Temple Elephants in the Republic of India

Thank you!

Warm regards,

A Citizen of India