Twenty four elephants died in one year in Kerala

Expert terms annual festive season as season of death'

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The World Elephant Day this year on October 5 was marked by a tragedy. 32-year-old tusker Venattumattam Ganesan, who had been suffering for over two years, breathed his last in the backyard of his owner’s house at Pravithanam in Kottayam district. Ganesan, Forest Department sources said, suffered from tuberculosis. The tusker was the 18th captive elephant to die in the state in the last nine months. According to Heritage Animal Task Force secretary V.K. Venkitachalam, who keeps record of elephant torture and deaths, the number of deaths this year is a record. “Never before has this happened. It just shows that this year’s festival season was unbelievably hard on captive elephants,” Mr Venkitachalam said.

If a whole year, from October last to this October, is taken into account, the number deaths will be 24. Venkitachalam termed the 2016 festival season (from October 2015 to May 2016) as “the season of death”. Elephants experts have always warned that stress induces tuberculosis in elephants. Ganeshan was transported long distances in lorries and made to walk on boiling tarmac for hours even during the period the animal was suffering. Venkitachalam said that 16 of the 18 elephants that died this year had been subjected to brutal torture. “All of these, without exception, take place as part of the festival circuit. In the morning the sun beats down on them and in the nights the heat from flaming torches that are placed near their eyes,” he said.

Animal Welfare Board member M.N. Jayachandran said that the Forest Department was turning a blind eye to the problem. “The Board has been constantly writing to the chief wildlife warden, the chief secretary and even to the private secretary of the Chief Minister. But not a single person has deigned to reply to our mails,” Jayachandran said. For instance, a post mortem was done on Ganeshan only after animal activists raised a hue and cry.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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