Monday, June 29, 2015

Captive Elephants - The Anguish in my Heart

30th, June 2015
I've edited this post today because I cried this morning. It is not that I'm prone to emotional upheavals but a video link a friend sent me left me shaken, and I could feel the nausea an hour after I watched it!

Many of my previous post have a link with the elephant. To most of us, our only encounter with these gentle giants are only when we meet them at a temple or parade. We never give a second thought as to how they reached where they are, amongst us; the most callous, cruel and scheming of all God's creations.

In the course of searching for an old set of photographs, I ran into my old friend, the Clay Elephant, as I call him. It seems relevant now considering the number of reports about captive elephants running amok.

Please click the Link in Pink to meet the Clay Elephant of Guruvayur. Strictly speaking this post has no link to Woodcrawling, but the main protagonist should have been roaming free in one of India's forests. Unfortunately, he lives, chained for life, in Punathoor Kota in Guruvayur as one of the Lord's elephants.

Today, I too realized that while I walked around photographing these beautiful pachyderms on my visit to Guruvayur and other temple festivals in Kerala, I have never really thought about how they came to be where they were in the first place. If a self proclaimed Woodcrawler has not applied thought to the fundamental reason as to how & why a temple elephant became a temple elephant, I can imagine the rest of the world.

Ignorance is bliss and when truth hits you hard, it really hurts. I had posted on how elephants think in third part of  my blog series on the Aftermath of an Elephant Attack. After seeing this video by Kalyan Varma, I am left speechless!

If this is the solution to human-elephant conflicts, it disgusts me! It is we, who have encroached on their territories and cramped them for space by blocking their migration corridors. We forget that these gentle creatures have no politics or any vicious agenda. They only want to move freely in what is rightfully their home. It is we who have occupied their space not the other way around. It is we who should be moved out of the traditional homeland of elephants.

This video is only a short bit of the entire story. If a ten minute clip can leave you shattered I can't imagine how it will be to sit through the 20 hours of recording. I can also imagine what turmoils Kalyan Varma would have gone through, seeing this first hand.

Here is the clip. Be prepared for some stomach churning scenes.

My friend the Clay Elephant too would probably have gone through a similar painful experience. Now he spends his life chained up with more than 50 such magnificent tuskers in Punathoor Kota, Guruvayur. He is destined to live, suffer and die in those heavy chains.

If you love these gentle giants don't just view this clip and keep silent. Raise your voice and protest. Let the temple elephants and other captive elephants take a step towards freedom. I know it is wishful thinking but this cruelty has to stop, and unless someone protests elephants in India will suffer this fate!

Please share the post............. for the sake of the elephants!

Update: 31st July, 2015

Courtesy: Kalyan Varma & Peepli org
If you want to see how the elephants in the above picture felt while going through this drama, see the blog here.

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