The Heritage Animal Task Force will initiate an international signature campaign on cruelty against elephants from August 12 which is observed as World Elephant Day.
The Task Force alleged that the State government, which has elephants in its official emblem, is not taking any initiative to observe the World Elephant Day even as death toll of both captive and wild elephants is increasing day by day.
According to unofficial statistics, 89 wild elephants have become victims to poaching in 2016 alone in Kerala forests, said V.K. Venkitachalam, secretary of the Task Force.
The news about poaching of 21 wild elephants during 2014-15 came to light only when the forest officials nabbed a forest mafia gang. The animal lovers also alleged that the elephant owners illegally trim the tusks of captive elephants and sell the ivory.
“The captive elephants have been undergoing tremendous harassment. They have been tortured during festivals and rituals. An elephant Thiruvambadi Lakshmi lost its eyesight due to torture from its mahout. Another elephant Thiruvambadi Unnikrishnan collapsed in a temple during rituals,” the task force noted.
Plea in High Court
The Task Force alleged that those who do not have sufficient eligibility to treat elephants are taking care of elephants. In a petition submitted to the High Court, the Heritage Animal Task Force has urged shifting of elephants to Veterinary University, Mannuthy, for expert treatment.
The Kerala government itself has given a statement at the Supreme Court that 289 captive elephants in the State do not have valid ownership certificates. However, the centre or State governments have not initiated any steps to punish the mafia behind the illegal smuggling of elephants to Kerala, it noted.
The elephants have killed nine persons, including eight mahouts, so far in 2016. Failure in adhering to the guidelines for elephant parade and unmindful torture force the elephants to turn unruly, the elephant lovers noted.
More than 52 animal welfare organisations in the world are observing August 12 as World Elephant Day.