Culture Or Cruelty: Torture to Elephants, How Many More Ways Left To Harm Them Now?

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Cruelty towards elephants in innumerable forms. It usually appears in form of culture, tradition, religion, entertainment, or protecting farmland. In a couple of months, there have been many cases reported of violence against elephants. Compassionate treatment towards animals is one of the fundamental duties envisaged in Article 51A of the Indian Constitution. Though, the people failed miserably to fulfil their duty.

Vermin Species

Vermin species are wild animals that are harmful to the crops, farm animals, human life, and property. The animals that carry the disease are also known as vermin species. Section 62 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 empowers the government to declare any animal as vermin. Although, it is in schedule V and
not Schedule I or Part II of Schedule II.

Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 are the two pieces of legislation for the protection of animals. Though, there is no proper legislation, rules, or guidelines for the culling of animals. If any wild animal is classified as vermin by the government, there is no longer any protection under the wildlife protection act. Violence against vermin animals is legal. In India, government declared some animals vermin. For instance, nilgai and wild boar in Bihar and rhesus monkey in Himachal Pradesh.

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Last month, a pregnant elephant named “Saumya” died in Kerala after eating pineapple filled with crackers. It grasped the attention of people across the country. Moreover, it was done by the farmers to protect their crops.

Afterwards, on 6th June, a cow in Himachal Pradesh fed explosive-filled flour ball and injured. Later, on 10th June, two more elephants died due to poison in Chattisgarh.

Human-Animal Conflict

Human-animal conflict is a serious issue as both of them suffer. The farmers suffer a great loss because of devastation of their crops. On the other hand, the vermin species also suffers as the farmers have the right to destroy the animals. Sadly, they choose brutal methods and kill animals. The reason behind this is the government policies that fail to address the farmer’s problems. Other than that, these animals forced to leave their territories as it is disturbed by human intrusion. Some of the reasons behind it include deforestation, drought, and fall in the predator population as it increases the herbivores population.

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Additionally, the death of these animals would lead to disturbing the food chain resulting in ecological imbalances. Furthermore, it can be controlled if the animals are provided with adequate food and water. We need to find a solution where both humans and elephants can co-exist.

Abuse for Entertainment

The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 is to protect wild animals including elephants. Wild animals are not allowed using for captive use. Though, elephants are an exception. They are allowed to be owned and used for captive use. However, these elephants are only the victim of violence. They live a life of forced labor coupled with torture.

Besides, the owners use them for their greed and own selfish needs. Moreover, the cruelty meted towards them is inconsistent with the law but in the case of captive elephants, it goes unreported.

Elephants have been used for entertainment purposes in circuses but later, this practice was banned as training causes harm to them. Similarly, they are abused during an elephant ride that is for the tourist’s entertainment.

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In March, a PIL was filed to stop the use of elephants for entertainment purposes. A couple made entrance to their wedding venue on top of an elephant. They are tortured as they have to walk on roads listening to loud music and bursting crackers. A person can’t exhibit or train performing animals without registration. Yet, many animals are not registered but trained brutally. Also, it was found that in Goa’s spice farm 10 captive elephants are used for entertainment purposes illegally.

Culture or Cruelty?

Elephants are an important part of the traditions and culture of Kerala. In every religious festival, we can witness an elephant treated as an idol. They worship elephants but on the other hand, they torture them too. They put their cultural rights before animals rights. Yet, boast about worshipping elephants. They infuse fear in its mind, to train them. As a result, they would follow their orders. Mahouts use bull hooks, sticks, knives, chains, and hobbles to train them.

Recently, PETA filed a complaint against the temple authorities of Sri Manakula Vinayagar Temple in Puducherry. They own an elephant named “Lakshmi” and it was subjected to abuse and violence. The temple did not act according to the conditions of ownership mentioned under Section 42 of the Wildlife Protection Act.

In addition to it, they failed to follow the guidelines for the care and management of captive elephants. The AWBI-authorised inspection report reveals that she suffered from mental stress and foot rot on all legs. Ankush (a metal hook instrument) was used to control her which caused her injury.

In the festival of Thrissur Pooram, elephants are forced to parade and are subjected to cruelty. It parades for several hours between crackers bursting to cause them pain and injury. Mahouts treat them in an ill-mannered way while training them. People make money by trading these elephants in the name of
religion. After all, they are not worshipping elephants but just using them to satisfy their greed.

Conclusion and recommendations

There is a need for a strong policy framework to balance the interests of both humans and animals. Culling/killing them is not an appropriate solution. There should be scientific management of wild animals. One way of doing it could be population control. Furthermore, the predator population needs preservation as it would automatically reduce herbivores population.

Control on deforestation is important along with the implementation of the laws. As a result, they would not come in search of food to the human dwellings or crop field. Farmers can use methods like electric fencing, Italian honey bee to keep the elephants away. Proper financial aid should be provided to the organizations that work towards animal birth control.

In addition to it, the proper subsidy should be provided to the farmers to protect their farm/crops rather than make them wait for compensation. Furthermore, if there would be proper data on human-elephant conflict it would be easy to help the farmers. It would be easy to recognize the community which needs assistance.

Exceptions

The removal of ownership of elephants is correct as it also needs the same protection as other wild animals. Isolated places are not to safekeep them. They should not face tortured for gaining monetary benefits. Moreover, people should understand that they cannot use culture as an excuse to justify cruelty. Generally, people don’t torture the one who they worship. In case, they go for any entertainment purposes, they need registration.

People should not take elephant rides and understand the torture faced by these elephants. More animal rights awareness campaigns arrangements to show the people ground reality of cruelty towards animals. Most importantly, people should understand that elephants are wild animals and they cannot stay in domestic spaces. There is a dire need for humans to be human enough.


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