Elephant owners, including temples in Kerala have come under intense scrutiny after illegal ivory traders confessed that they bought tusks of captive elephants from the state. A popular daily in India reports, one of the traders was arrested in New Delhi, after law enforcement authorities raided his home and seized 487 kilos of ivory worth more than 120,000,000 Indian Rupees i.e. $1.8 million USD.
The life of Thechikkottukavu Ramachandran — the tallest elephant in Kerala, a southern state of India, and the second tallest in all of Asia is in danger. His handlers uncovered a plot to murder this majestic animal, after they found pieces of razor blades in his fodder, according to the country’s most prestigious daily, The Times of India (clipping at the bottom), and one of Kerala’s most reliable news source “Manorama”.
Just before embarking on our final stretch of post-production, I returned to Kerala (a southern state of India), recently and was devastated to see what had happened to an elephant starring in my film, Gods in Shackles. Lakshmi is the beauty I had met in December 2013, a temple elephant who stole my heart. It was only in September 2014 that I’d last seen her. But within nine months Lakshmi’s life had taken a turn for the worse.
Most elephants used in Kerala’s festivals are males. They are being robbed of their basic right to mate, tethered 24/7 for 3-4 months during their musth period. This has skewed the sex ratio of wild elephants, with 1:80 male and female ratio in some places, which could cause inbreeding, genetic issues, and deformities.
Musth is an annual cycle that causes dramatic spike in their energy levels, and pushes their testosterone levels up to a 100%, making them dominant and aggressive.
Something sinister is unfolding, as preparation for this year’s Trissur Pooram gets underway. The two main host temples –the Vedakkumnathan Devaswom and Thiruvambaadi Devaswom — will be parading a baby elephant each from April 24th through the 28th starting 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. During those four days the two babies will be paraded door-to-door to collect money. Essentially these elephants will be forced into child labour and beg for the temples’ coffers.
A friend recently asked me how can a patriarchal country that abuses its women, and destroys girls even before they are born treat its animals compassionately? The question inspired me to delve into this conundrum and I found some parallel realities between the mistreatment of women and elephants in India.
Cultural misinterpretations and confirmation biases fueled by greed and status-quo are destroying human and elephant societies. While elephants are being killed for ivory and exploited for profit, in the name of culture and religion, women are being exploited for dowry, defined as “the money, goods, or estate that a wife brings to her husband at marriage.”
Recently a temple in Kerala turned into a battleground after two elephants clashed and literally locked heads, causing panic among the worshipers and inflicting serious injuries to each other.
The elephant that provoked the fight, “Gokul” from Guruvayur Temple, was leased out as the main elephant to carry God’s idol for a parade outside the temple.
The festival season for humans is a season of torture for elephants in Kerala. The cultural celebrations have barely begun in that Southern state of India, and five elephants have already run amok in the past two days.
A handler has been seriously injured and hospitalized, after a temple elephant in Kannur District ran amok, and created panic for six hours. The furious animal ran out of control as it toppled electric posts, trees and smothered all objects on its path, inflicting injuries on its own body.
A world renowned Guruvayur temple in the southern state of Kerala (India) that has garnered the United Nations World Heritage Site status is the “Ground Zero” for elephant torture. This prestigious temple, glamorous on the outside, also has a sordid zone where some of the dark torturous practices continue unabated.
Welcome to the Punnathur Aana Kotta (Punnathur elephant palace) — the so-called “captive elephant sanctuary,” more aptly one of the world’s worst factory farms.
Mother Nature has been the most powerful healing source in my life, and in this article I am inspired to share my profound connections with Her and part of my healing journey.
To begin, it’s a miracle that I am alive today. I sunk into depression and nearly ended my life a decade after moving to Toronto in 1989.