THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The captive elephant that died at Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple is the twelfth captive elephant that had died this year. Incidentally, the 48-year-old tusker is also the first elephant to die after the festival season that ended in May. Of the remaining, ten had died during the festival season, and their deaths were due to festival-related overwork. The eleventh one, Junior Achuthan, died at Punnathur Kotta in Guruvayur on June 8. And just like Parthasarathy, Achuthan too had collapsed and died at the spot where he was tied. In 2016, 24 elephants had died.
The latest death, of Parathasarathy, has once again exposed the veterinary community’s inability to deal with an ailing pachyderm. It was only days before that there were Facebook posts assuring ‘fans’ that Parthasarathy had recovered. “The elephant, which was donated to Aaranmula Parthasarathi Temple at the age of six, died due to torture, neglect and experimental methods of veterinary treatment,” said V. K. Venkitachalam of Heritage Animal Task Force. He accused Travancore Devaswom Board for the continuing neglect of captive elephants.
According to Venkitachalam, the TDB has in its custody 29 elephants without having statutory ownership certificate. “The TDB, which keeps these elephants at various temples under its jurisdiction, does not create congenial facilities for the maintenance of elephants for past several years,” he said. At Aaranmula temple itself, he said that three elephants had died due to torture during the past six years. “The present case of torturous death of elephant Parthasarathy is a classic case of irresponsibility on part of officials of TDB, Kerala Forest Department and veterinarians who were in charge of diagnosing and treating these elephants,” he said.
Mr Venkitachalam said that Parthasarathy had been suffering from impaction and ulcer for past several years. “But the veterinarians have no clue about the treatment method. Still, veterinarians have claimed ten days ago that the elephant has totally recovered,” he said. He also charged that no veterinarian could come up with a treatment plan even after the elephant collapsed twice.The third time the elephant collapsed, it died....