Joymala

New Delhi: Animal’s rights organisation People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India has urged forest departments of Assam and Tamil Nadu to seize abused elephant Joymala alias Jayamalyatha and rehabilitate her at a sanctuary.

In a chilling reminder that cruelty against animals continues unabated, a video of Joymala being brutally beaten up by its mahout on the premises of the Srivilliputhur Nachiyar Thirukovil temple in Tamil Nadu, has surfaced.

This is the second video showing the helpless elephant tightly chained by her legs crying out pain, while repeatedly being beaten by her mahout.

PETA India has sent an urgent appeal to the chief wildlife wardens of Assam and Tamil Nadu urging them to enforce the Wild Life (Protection) Act (WPA), 1972, and to seize the abused elephant immediately and rehabilitate her at a sanctuary.

The elephant is from the Assam government and has reportedly been forced to remain at the Tamil Nadu temple past the lease agreement, in violation of the WPA.

The letter also urges them to register a preliminary offence report against the mahout for violating the WPA and the Tamil Nadu Captive Elephants (Management and Maintenance) Rules, 2011.

The first video, which surfaced in February 2021, showed Joymala being beaten at a rejuvenation camp and led Tamil Nadu’s Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowments Department to suspend two mahouts involved.

The forest department booked them under Rule 13 of the Tamil Nadu Captive Elephants (Management and Maintenance) Rules, 2011, and Section 51 of the WPA.

“Intelligent and emotional elephants endure physical and psychological trauma in captivity for use in temple festivals, rides, circuses, and other spectacles, and in Jeymalyatha’s case, the cruelty has been caught on camera twice,” writes PETA India Chief Advocacy Officer Khushboo Gupta.

“PETA India urges temples to carry out rituals using palanquins, chariots, or life-like mechanical elephants and urge devotees to donate to genuine elephant sanctuaries, where these animals are permitted to live in the company of other elephants and kept free from chains,” Gupta said.

The Srivilliputhur Nachiyar Thirukovil temple has reportedly kept Jeymalyatha in captivity illegally for more than a decade, as she was never returned to the Assam Forest Department after the six-month lease expired.

The Assam government has already requested that Tamil Nadu send the elephant back due to her abuse and because the custodian apparently does not have required documentation.

Noting the exploitation of elephants in captivity, the Honourable Madras High Court has earlier directed the Tamil Nadu state government to form a policy on the ownership of elephants.

The court stated that all elephants – privately owned or owned by a temple – must come under the care of the forest department and that future private ownership of elephants must be prohibited.

Indian and international public opinion is becoming increasingly opposed to elephant captivity, PETA India stated.

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