An animal rights group based in Goa has urged Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to order an investigation into the deaths, allegedly of 138 privately owned elephants -- used in temple festivities -- in the state during the last five years.
The Centre for Research on Animal Rights (CRAR), in a letter, has also requested Vijayan to order the immediate retirement of all old (above 60 years of age), sick, and ailing elephants and house them in rescue centres to live out their remaining lives.
In its letter, CRAR has claimed that it has recorded deaths of 138 privately owned pachyderms in the state that were also used in temple festivals, including Kerala's iconic 'Thrissur Pooram'.
"A life of relentless torture has killed more than 138 elephants in the state between 2018 and 2023. To date, no inquiry has been conducted. Most of them die in their prime out of diseases like foot rot and impaction that are uncommon in their wild cousins.
"This means that the leading cause of death among Kerala’s elephants is their captivity,” Alok Hisarwala Gupta, Founder of CRAR, has said in the letter.
The animal rights body has also alleged that the system of issuing fitness certificates to certify the mental and physical health of elephants has failed as private owners in collusion with veterinarians were getting these issued fraudulently.
It has appealed to the government to intervene and promote alternatives like the use of mechanical or robotic elephants as a substitute in 'Pooram' (temple festivals) celebrations.