Cap­tive life

Down to Earth - - BOOK -

a com­mon sight to see cap­tive ele­phants beg­ging on roads, stand­ing for hours in a tem­ple, tak­ing tourists for rides, be­ing used in wed­dings, gar­land­ing politi­cians and a host of un­nat­u­ral ac­tiv­i­ties that con­trib­ute to their stress and tor­ture. There is no institution in the coun­try,apart from the For­est De­part­ments, that can af­ford to keep ele­phants with­out us­ing them for com­mer­cial pur­poses. Ele­phants, with their unique emo­tional and phys­i­cal needs, are worst suited to cap­tiv­ity. They suf­fer from se­vere iso­la­tion and de­pres­sion with stress re­lated diseases in tem­ples, cir­cuses and tourism in­dus­tries.

Ele­phant calves are smug­gled, trucked and walked af­ter be­ing il­le­gally cap­tured from the dense forests of north-east In­dia. They are dis­trib­uted through il­le­gal net­works to the ur­ban ghet­tos of Ra­jasthan and garbage dumps un­der fly­overs in Pun­jab. They are sent for beg­ging alms to mathas (monas­tic es­tab­lish­ments) and tem­ples of cen­tral and south In­dia, and used and ex­ploited as eco­tourism props in shady tourist camps of Goa. Re­lent­less tor­ture in fes­ti­vals in Ker­ala is the worst that could be­fall th­ese mag­nif­i­cent an­i­mals. For many, as we can see, the ele­phant re­mains an in­sen­si­tive beast. Is it be­cause of ig­no­rance, in­sen­si­tiv­ity, greed or sim­ply be­cause the law is not clear enough? Gan­guly wrote Gods in Chains, a book on the plight

of cap­tive ele­phants in In­dia

Ele­phants suf­fer from se­vere iso­la­tion and de­pres­sion with stress­re­lated diseases

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