India’s Overworked Elephants

In the southern state of Kerala, owning an elephant is a feudal status symbol. The state has a reported 700 domesticated elephants, many rented out for the equivalent of $5,000 for one performance. Yet many elephant owners, which include private owners and temples, claim that the money they make from performances is barely enough to pay for the upkeep of the animals.

This has resulted in overworking the elephants. Senior wildlife officer KP Ouseph stated: “Some of the elephants are paraded at three or four places during the day for 12 or more hours. A lot of these festivals happen at night. The animals don’t get enough rest, and misbehave mainly because of overwork.”

Lately, the amount of elephants misbehaving has increased. According to Mr. Zacharia, one of Kerala’s best known writers, “Not a day passes without the news of an elephant meeting its death in an accident or getting grievously injured or killing the mahout in sheer desperation or running amok because it simply has had enough.”

The animals endure noisy parades, fire crackers, traveling long distances and many time are walking in the scorching sun on tarred roads for hours. Not only are they overworked, but one survey found that half of the keepers had a drinking problem.

To support India’s elephant population with the World Land Trust organization, click here! Any donations made will be matched by a silent donor up to £100,000.


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