A report by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) on the 14-year-old elephant, Sunder, contradicts the state’s report on the animal.
A high court order on December 10, directed the state government to move Sunder to a sanctuary in Karnataka and file a compliance report on December 23. The state report given to the Bombay high court had said that the animal is aggressive and cannot be moved from Kolhapur’s Jyotiba temple to a sanctuary.
Sunder was examined by Dr Rajeev TS from the Centre for Elephant Studies, Kerala, and Dr Sasindra Dev, forest veterinary officer from Konni, Kerala, on December 20. The AWBI, which operates under the Ministry of Environment and Forest, had asked the doctors to examine the animal. The examination confirmed that the elephant was not in a musth condition, as claimed by the state, and he did not have any disease.
In addition, the report revealed an extreme head swaying in the elephant, which is due to lack of exercise, (which is essential to balance their energy levels), long periods of inactivity and persistent chaining. It said that the elephant was ‘generally apathetic’ and malnourished.
A video released by the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) earlier this month, showed Sunder being abused by his mahout and repeatedly hit with a pole. The court was hearing a petition filed by Dr Manilal Valliyate on behalf of PETA. In July 2012, the plight of the elephant, which was gifted to the temple by a local MLA, was brought to the notice of PETA.