|Onmanorama - Manoramaonline|
|Thechikottukavu Ramachandran Telegraph India|
Perhaps, you may be wondering why the elephant was partially blind. Until he came down to Kerala, Ramachndran had a good eyesight. It is a matter of deep pain and sorrow it was here the elephant lost sight in one of his eyes. Having been trained to respond to commands in Hindi and Bhojpuri, the mahout, who only knew Malayalam language, was unable to make the elephant understand his command. The mahout could have been patient with the elephant, instead he lost his temper and, in rage, he hit the animal in the eye with a sharp object, making it blind in that left eye. Though with a blind left eye and a sensitive right eye that causes him agitation upon seeing the huge crowd, it is Ramachandran who kick-started the 2019 Poorum festival by pushing open a giant door at the Vadakkumnathan (Lord Shiva) temple in Thrissur, and then picked his way through a sea of worshippers and spectators without causing any mishap.
While training the elephant, world over ''torture'' is used to discipline it and there is a limit to it. Since most of the mahouts are not well educated and be familiar with animal behaviour, they use crude torture methods as a way to discipline the huge elephant and to understand their commands. When an elephant undergoes training with different mahouts. it causes them additional strains and nightmares because mahouts follow their own methods of torture to train the animal. As for the animal, under a new mahout he goes through the torture cycle all over, causing fear and confusion. The animal becomes defencive and, in course of time, becomes violent and aggressive. To subdue them and obey, the mahouts hit them, wound them, and then hit them on the wounds again. The wounds will not heal causing infections. The painful infections make them edgy.
According to Dr Gopakumar, a veterinary surgeon who pays particular attention to elephants, they immobilised it by chains creating wounds on its legs and the wounds remain unhealed. Torture of animals by mahouts, lack of rest and proper food, adequate water (elephants need 150 to 250 liters of water a day), denial of frequent medical care and treatment, long walk under the hot sun on the hard asphalt road and most importantly making them stand for long hours at temple ceremonies were identified as the immediate causes for many captive elephants turning violent.
Yet another biological problem is musth - a periodic condition
|Elephant with musth Safari Guide Online - WordPress.com|
in bull (male) elephants, characterised by highly
aggressive behavior and accompanied by a large rise in reproductive hormones. Testosterone levels in an elephant in musth can be as much as 6 times greater than in the same elephant at other times. Scientists say musth alone can not be a factor for elephant's violent behavior. Even quiet and placid elephants become highly violent irritable toward humans and other elephants during musth. During pre-musth (pre-rutting) stage the elephants needed rest, cool surroundings, lot of water to drink, special diet, etc. Normally, when people and crowds stand nearby, the elephant can become nervous and the din associated with urban areas may complicate the matter.
Normally every year lots of temple festivals take place in Kerala between January and May. Perhaps, it may the cruelest months for the pachyderms, not so for the Elephant owners and Mahouts. During this time, there is a great demand for the elephants as they are being rented out for various temple functions across Kerala for a heft sum ranging from Rs 30,000 to Rs 1,00,000 a day, depending on the elephants' track record. The elephant owners, mahouts, contractors are the main culprits, having vested interests in the over-exploitation of these innocent pachyderms for their personal gains at the cost of animal's health and risking public safety.