A disturbing video showing two mahouts brutally thrashing an elephant tied to a tree at the rejuvenation camp in Tamil Nadu went viral on social media on February 21. As the video went viral, the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department (HR & CE) suspended one of the mahouts and ordered a probe into the incident.
The video, shot by volunteers of Vanam Trust of India (an animal welfare organisation) on Saturday, shows two mahouts caning an elephant. The volunteers clandestinely shot the video, wherein the elephant can be heard trumpeting and whimpering in pain. The elephant has been identified as Jaymalyatha, a temple elephant from Srivilliputhur in the Virudhunagar district of Tamil Nadu. The video has been shared widely on social media apps and has sparked widespread outrage.
Speaking to TNM, an officer from HR & CE Department said, â€śA detailed probe will be conducted into what transpired. According to persons present at the camp, the elephant was allegedly behaving wild for the past few days. That, however, does not justify the mahoutsâ€™ act. We will be able to know further details upon inquiry.â€ť
The two-month-long rejuvenation camp at Thekampatti in Coimbatore for 26 elephants from temples and mutts in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry began earlier this month. Tamil Nadu government had set aside Rs 1.67 crore for the camp that would serve as a refreshment for the pachyderms. The elephants would be served nutritious meal and would be closely monitored for their health. This practice of an annual camp was introduced by late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa in 2003.
Earlier in January, a 40-year-old elephant, which was being shifted to the Theppakadu elephant camp for treatment, succumbed to deep injuries. The elephant was found injured at Masinagudi and was tranquillised by the officials. A few days after its death, it came to light that the elephant was attacked by villagers about two months ago. The elephant had wandered off from the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve zone into a residential area in the hill town nearby at night. A video showed as the residents tried to drive the pachyderm away, a flaming stick landed on its head, setting ablaze its ear.