Thiruvananthapuram: More and more incidents of elephants on rampage are being reported in Kerala. This has brought the focus back on the debate on the parading of animals at festivals.
A toddler was killed and 25 others injured in a stampede when a tusker ran amok in the festivities at the famous Koodal Manikkam Temple in the Thrissur district. In another incident, 62 were injured as the result of an elephant rampage during the famous Thrissur Pooram festivities. Such incidents on the rise in God's own country are causing a wave of concern.
The recent incidents of elephant rampages in Kerala have once again raised the debate about parading the animal for various festivals. Though there are many rules and regulations on paper, both by the Union and state governments, the big question is how much of it is followed on the ground.
The Kerala Forest Department rules state that the public must be kept at a safe distance and startling or high volume sounds should not be produced near the elephant. In both the instances when the elephant ran amok, none of the conditions were followed.
The rules also state, when the elephant is in musth, it should not be paraded as the elephant is likely to be more aggressive during this period. The elephant at Thrissur Pooram, that went on a rampage was in fact in Musth.
People for Animals (PFA) member Latha said, "There are cases that have been registered against the culprits. But has anybody been punished or even fines imposed in the past several years? There is no follow up from the authorities."
The government agrees that better enforcement is needed. Until the government acts tough and ensures the owners of temple elephants look after them better, this jumbo problem is not likely to go away.