The Coimbatore Forest Department Sunday arrested a mahout and his assistant on charges of attacking an elephant at the government’s annual rejuvenation camp at Thekkampatti near Mettupalayam.
In a video that surfaced on social media, Vinilkumar (46) and his assistant Sivaprasad (32) were seen brutally thrashing Jayamalyatha, an 18-year-old female elephant of Andal Temple in Sri Villiputhur, with sticks.
Horrific Visuals. Two mahouts attack an elephant at the Thekkampatti rejuvenation camp in Mettupalayam. The elephant is identified as Jayamalyatha from Andal Temple, Srivilliputhur. Officials from HR and CE told the department will conduct an enquiry soon. @IndianExpress pic.twitter.com/ecNZOdlftr
— Janardhan Koushik (@koushiktweets) February 21, 2021
Within a few hours of the clip going viral, several wildlife conservationists and activists demanded strict action against the caretakers. The Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department, which is holding the camp for the elephants, said they will conduct an inquiry and initiate necessary action. Kumar, a third-generation mahout who was taking care of the elephant since 2011, was later suspended.
The district forest department also picked the duo from the camp and booked them under sections of the Wildlife Prevention Act. They have also been charged with violating provisions of Tamil Nadu Captive Elephants (Management and Rules), 2011.
As per the reports, the mahout was irked after the elephant refused to obey his command. “He was taking the elephant to the shower area. It (the elephant) suddenly ran out of control after seeing another elephant; the caretakers found very had to bring the elephant under control,” another mahout at the camp said.
The caretakers had tied the elephant with the chains near to a tree and thrashed it on Saturday evening. Volunteers of Vanam Trust of India, an animal welfare organisation, shot the incident when they were passing the camp.
The 48-day annual retreat for captive elephants began on February 9. The officials said 1.67 crore rupees were allocated for the camp to set up shelters, bathing platforms, walking tracks, food courts, mobile toilets, etc.