One of the most popular temple elephants in Kerala, Thiruvambadi Sivasundar, died on Sunday morning in Thrissur. The 46-year-old tusker had been undergoing treatment for impaction for the last two months and it breathed its last around 3 am after failing to respond to the treatment, reports The Hindu.
Impaction is the blockage of digestive tracts in animals.
Thousands of people gathered to pay their last respects to Sivasundar. The elephant was offered to the Thiruvambadi temple by NRI entrepreneur TA Sundar Menon more than 15 years ago.
Thiruvambadi Sivasundar had been carrying the idol of Thiruvambadi temple for the past 15 years during the Thrissur Pooram. A docu-fiction was also made on the elephant.
The tusker was also conferred with the Gaja Kesari Title at Gajaraja Sangamam held at Elangulam in 2007. It also won Mathanga Kesari title in 2008.
“Sivasundar was favourite of elephant fans with its beauty and obedience. It cannot be replaced. It’s a huge loss to Devaswom and elephant fans,” said Prof. M. Madhavan Kutty, Thiruvambadi Devaswom Secretary.
Meanwhile VK Venkitachalam, secretary of Heritage Animal Task Force, pointed out the increasing number of such deaths among the captive elephants. He said that most of the temple elephants are forced to participate in festivals even when they have intestinal problems.
“Sivasundar was also suffering from various diseases and it was forced to participate in festivals in Kottayam, Palakkad and Thrissur districts from second week of December 2017 till January 2, 2018,” he told TOI.
Veterinarian Dr T S Rajeev also said that deaths due to impaction have become common among captive elephants. “Elephants are grazers and browsers and they usually eat grass and branches and barks of trees, which have high water content. Items like palm and coconut leaves, which are commonly being given to the elephants in Kerala, must be avoided, Dr Rajeev told TOI.