Bengaluru/Srirangapatna: One of the five elephants lodged at a now-defunct amusement park in Srirangapatna taluk after a circus troupe owner abandoned them has succumbed to prolonged illness and months of neglect by its caretakers.
Chanchal, 63, was suffering from arthritis and malnutrition and had stopped eating for the last two days. Private veterinarians were attending to it but it died on Wednesday night after three days of lateral recumbency, said Premkumar, a local circus manager in Mysuru. The elephant belonged to a private party in Kerala. Six mahouts were taking care of it, according to Range Forest Officer H K Mariswamy. The carcass will be burnt at the same place, forest officials said.
Chanchal and four other elephants (Chaya, Rupa, Lakshmi and Chanchal) were brought to Fun Fort Recreation Centre in April after the owner of Gemini Circus abandoned them. The Central Zoo Authority and Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) had asked him for papers about transporting the elephants to Maharashtra, which he failed to show.
On November 12, a team of veterinarians conducted an inspection at the site on the authorisation of the AWBI. The team comprised Dr Ashish Sutar, Senior Manager of Veterinary Projects, Peta India, Dr Shantanu Kalambi of Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), Dr Kshama, Veterinary Officer from Mysuru zoo, and Vasudev Murthy, Honorary Animal Welfare Officer.
On Wednesday, two veterinarians — Dr Anil A H (Animal Husbandry Department, Malavalli) and Dr Suranjana Ganguly (from NGO People for Animals, Mysuru) — checked on Chanchal. The doctors said she was in poor condition, suffering from extreme dehydration, progressive weight loss, lameness and loss of appetite.The caretakers forbade any kind of treatment including giving her fluids, said Ganguly.
The elephant’s death has prompted Murthy to file a case of criminal negligence and cruelty against the Forest Department and the circus troupe owner.
He said that despite two veterinarians suggesting immediate treatment, the circus management did nothing, while the Forest Department remained a mute spectator to the entire episode.
The High Court is already hearing a petition about the five elephants. Murthy has also floated an online petition (https://www.ketto.org/JusticeforMandyaElephants) to raise funds to fight the legal battle.
Animal welfare organisations have been urging the Forest Department to move the elephants to Doddahaveri, its elephant rescue and rehabilitation centre in Mysuru.
But M Madan Gopal, Principal Secretary, Forest, Ecology and Environment Department, said that animal organisations had given an “exaggerated” version of the living conditions of the elephants. He said the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Ravi Ralph, had sent a team of officials which apparently found no fault at the site. “The department will take a relook if the matter is brought to my notice,” Gopal added.
Report by a team of vets to be submitted to High Court:
Elephants are chained, kept in unhygienic condition; infections are imminent.
It looks they’ve never had a bath; no ready access to drinking water.
Mahouts are untrained, unmotivated and uncouth. Unbalanced diet; extreme malnutrition, skin ailments with untreated wounds.