Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Dangers of musth elephants go street begging!!

wild elephant 600kg buffalo in the


elephant running amuck.
 The role of elephants is very much reduced in the lumber industries in Indian states like  Kerala, Assam and in countries such as Thailand because of the ban by the government and introduction of modern machinery. In Kerala almost every temple uses  elephants for their daily rituals, etc. Many of them, donated to temple by the devotees are being maintained by the temple. Some temples, even churches employ privately owned elephants for their needs. For the jumbo owners maintaining the huge animal is a tough task, it requires lots of food, water, almost daily bathing, Vet care, a good rest from long walk or standing  for several hours, etc. When the jumbo is out of work. the mahouts take the elephant to the bazaar area for begging.  Elephant begging is illegal in India, but the police turn a blind eye for the  simple reason of divinity involved. The elephants, not designed for urban/semi urban  setup, need a wide range of forest land where there are water holes, trees  and grass lands to walk around comfortably to lead a quiet lief. On the  other hand in the urban space, the air is highly polluted, they have cramped-up space to stay, and get poor quality food. Thus, the so called street elephants, when taken out on the street to get money from the shop owners and onlookers, are quite unsuitable for this kind of congested environment and consequently they are stressed. As for the mahout, he has to maintain the big animal as well as his family. Forced to beg under cruel and unsafe conditions in urban and semi urban space that take away their natural behavior, their stressed condition is not conducive to good health.

swoolen temporal glands.A bull in musth.
This brief post is about the risk of taking the male elephants to the cities and towns  and their seasonal musth problem that is not serious addressed in some cases. Particularly, the male elephants in the urban environment need special health care under the care of a veterinary doctor.  Most importantly, in the case of male elephants - bulls, Musth ( a word of Persian origin) is a serious issue and, if not treated, before hand, it may be a threat to human life, etc.

A musth elephant, wild or domesticated, is extremely dangerous to both humans and other elephants too. There are cases in  zoos world over where bull elephants that are quite friendly under  normal conditions, in musth are known to  have killed countless  zoo keepers when they  became uncontrollably enraged; Such bulls need to be isolated  during their musth, which greatly complicates the risk in urban space.  During the Musth period, bull elephants, are known to have highly aggressive behaviour because of excessive production of Testosterone - reproductive hormones, whose  level  is 60 times  greater than in the same elephant at other times. This  may force  the tucker to run amok which means serious trouble in the  neighborhood. Normally male Asian elephant experience their first musth at 30. According to Cynthia Moss, an expert in elephants " ... male elephants regularly entered a state called "musth" in which their urge to mate goes into overdrive and they become very aggressive, rather like rutting deer..."

Common physical symptoms of the musth are:

01. Swollen temple or temporal glands.
02. Swollen trunk base.
03. An oily fluid  coming out of the temple glands, leaving a black trace across the cheeks to the corners of the mouth.
04. Deep smell of sweat and urine
05. Permanent dripping of urine and hind legs, which are wet on the inside by urine drops.
06. No erection of the genital part.
07. Foreskin of the genital part  appearing white-greenish.

When the above symptoms persist, the elephant becomes aggressive  and does not obey commands of the Mahout and is prone to irritation by sudden sounds and movements. Does attack humans and familiar elephants.

 In India, the simple treatment has been that the domesticated elephants in musth are tied to a strong tree and are not given food The mahout  puts  the elephant on starvation diet for several days, thus the duration of their elephants' musth is typically reduced to typically to five to eight days; The other options are sedatives like xylazine that are carefully used under the care of the vets.

When the mahout takes the male elephant on the street, he has a responsibility toward the society and has to keep a watchful eye on the male elephant whose behaviour pattern may change before the onslaught of musth.

 As for the state governments in various regions, they have to keep a list of privately owned elephants, the checklist of the elephants health, medication taken, etc. The big animals need proper health care and prefer to be in their habitat where they have freedom, fresh air, fresh food and above all wide space to walk majestically. Put the elephants in the Urban Prison is very unfortunate, in the case of bull elephants, threats to human lives are very much there.


xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxbegging on the street and beaches

Street begging elephants and their mahouts (elephant handlers) wander hot spot tourist destinations visiting bars and restaurants usually from 6pm until midnight. Bags of sugarcane, pineapple or bananas are sold to tourists to feed to the elephant. People can also pay to have their photo taken. This is a miserable life for an elephant and listed below are a few reasons why:

    Elephants require a varied diet of grasses and leaves, plus clean fresh water daily which is not found in the inner cities

    Street begging reduces an elephant’s life expectancy by at least 50%. Calves rarely live past 5 years old

    Elephants become ill from breathing exhaust fumes, drinking dirty water, poor food, walking over concrete pavements, and are involved in car accidents

    The heat from the road is incredibly painful for the elephants sensitive feet

    Loud music, crowds of people, fear, stress, disorientation, beatings and drugging lead elephants to physical and mental breakdowns