A two-member expert committee appointed by People for Ethical Treatment to Animals (PETA) on Monday informed the Bombay High Court that the 'elephant Sunder', which is being kept on a company premises in Kolhapur, is being mistreated and is showing signs of severe mental stress, boredom, lack of social interaction and enrichment.
An affidavit filed by Dr Manila Valliyathe states that a team comprising of Dr E K Easwaran, Assistant Director and Elephant Expert department of Animal Husbandry, Kerala and Dr Yaduraj Khadpekar, Senior Veterinary officer and Elephant wildlife SOS, visited the spot on February 20 and carried out an external examination of the elephant and its habitat.
The report says "A detailed inspection of Sunder indicated that he is mentally suffering as he was showing signs of severe stereotypic behaviour such as repeated head wobbling, swaying, extending of neck and raising of head in a uniform fashion. The bull elephant was displaying aggressive behaviour and mock charging only towards its own mahout Hyder and his assistant mahout Atif and no aggression was displayed towards other people."
According to the expert Sunder gets distressed and disturbed only when his own mahout or assistant mahout approaches him. This confirms that the elephant is not being treated humanely and is holding a grudge towards the mahouts, the report said.
Rejecting the forest department's claim that Sunder was in a musth condition and cannot be relocated to Bangalore, the PETA report said the animal does not show any sign of the hormone-related conditioned.
According to the affidavit, Sunder has been kept in unhygienic condition and is made to drink non-potable water. This amounts to violation of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, it said.
The high court was hearing a petition filed by an NGO seeking implementation of an August 2012 order of the forest department to relocate the elephant. Advocate J S Saluja opposed the argument on the grounds that "The elephant is still in musth. In the present condition, it would not be possible to shift him anywhere."
The bench has now posted the matter for final hearing on March 11, when it is likely to pass an order on the elephant's relocation.