“Tusker in throes !”   4 comments

Caparisoned elephants has become a precondition for festivals in Kerala. However, there are no uniform standards for treating pachyderms which leaves a lot to be desired.

Caparisoned elephants has become a precondition for festivals in Kerala. However, there are no uniform standards for treating the pachyderms which leaves a lot to be desired.  (Pic by appu)

Another festive season in Kerala. When I saw him first, under the shadow of a tree by the corner of a school ground, he was in the middle of an afternoon break. Realising that his mahout was not around, we took some snaps for which he posed magnanimously.  Without further ado, let me just draw your attention towards the stick resting on him. The “STICK” symbolises a weird deal between the mahout and the elephant. The details of the deal go like this:

The mahout often leaves the scene apparently to take toddy breaks which may run for many hours. Whenever the mahout is to leave the company of the elephant, he leans a stick on the elephant and departs. The elephant on its part has to make sure the stick doesn’t fall or take a different position. He has to limit his movements according to the rules of the deal. Luck was not on his side today because the stick deserted him and kissed the ground moments after the mahout left the scene. What followed were frantic attempts to pick up the stick but to no avail. His restlessness grew by the moment and reached its crescendo when the mahout appeared in the horizon like a speck.

The mahout, as he proceeded forward, looked at the fallen stick in disbelief. Gathering his Dutch courage, the mahout charged forward brandishing a deadly cane. Shouting the name of the elephant, the mahout started thrashing him with no mercy. Cries of the animal filled the air. The second in charge came running and intervened thereby preventing the conflict from escalating further.

I, like many others could only stand as a mute spectator to the whole event. Even though many registered their protests with the temple authorities, the latter washed their hands off reasoning that they were in no way responsible for the mahout’s behaviour. The above was one among the many cruelties suffered by elephants in Kerala. This is the norm; nevertheless, there are a few good exceptions. Hopefully, may the few good exceptions reign over the prevailing atrocious norms in the coming years!

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4 responses to ““Tusker in throes !”

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  1. Some People are so cruel..You Know in Assam–My Home Town,Poachers and sometimes locals how mercilessly Kill the Rhino only for their horn…Sometimes I feel like hanging them or cut them into pieces and feed those Animals..
    When these people will learn to have Mercy on them…

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  2. hi buddy,
    I ve read about it… I mean the Poachers and their well connected networks n all. Was that due to the demand from China and Vietnam for their horns ? They use them in traditional medicines and as aphrodisiacs. right ? Even heard that the forest dept. is to use DRONES for surveillance.But have never read about the natives themselves indulging though. Anyway thanks for the info.. Hopefully they will change like the tribes who started using plastic beaks of Hornbills in Nagaland !!
    (Good to know that you are from north east esp. assam. Would love to see you write about BTAD problems and all. Really interested in knowing what going wrong there !! Would love to visit north east one day !!)

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  3. What is the use, my teacher once said, of praying for hours inside a temple and then coming out and hitting another person on his face?
    There are many accounts of mahouts being killed by the elephants, why didn’t this happen to him?
    And let me make it clear, I look down upon certain temple activities and rituals… They are plain stupid…

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