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Shackled and caparisoned, she suffered for elephants



STATE OF AFFAIRS: An activist of PETA, dressed in a body suit with an elephant mask and chained, campaigning against cruelties to captive elephants at the Marine Drive. - Photo: H. Vibhu

"For God's sake, stop elephant abuse," the animal-rights activist, dressed in a body suit with an elephant mask and shackled, pleaded silently.

Bloodstains dotted her body suit, a symbol of the beatings and torture meted out to the elephants.

The sharp hook used by the mahouts, the ultimate symbol of cruelty to captive elephants, was laid across the body.

A miniature caparison was also fixed on the elephant mask that she wore.

Natasha Paul, campaign coordinator of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), remained crouched and shackled on the walkway of the Marine Drive for an hour on Wednesday to highlight the painful existence of captive elephants.

Volunteers of the association used the novel campaign to highlight the plight of captive elephants in the State.

It was for the first time that the association was organising such a campaign in the State, said N.G. Jayasimha, PETA's coordinator of campaigns and legal affairs.

Shackled, beaten and abused... read one of the placards displayed by the volunteers.

Curious onlookers gathered around Ms. Paul as she moved to various crouching positions highlighting the plight of the chained animal.

While the majority of spectators watched the campaign in silence, there was also a stray voice of protest. One such protestor felt that the campaign was an "aggression against the culture of the State".

He also fumed against the silence on killing of chicken and cow for meat.

"Captive elephants are being subjected to innumerable cruelties in different parts of the country. People know that elephants are used for polo, paraded at temple festivals and used in circuses. But many hardly know the life of the animal. A large number of people do not know that elephants can communicate with each other and they also cry," said Mr. Jayasimha.

The elephants are made to beg on the streets. They are forced to walk on tarred roads. But their feet are not equipped to walk on tarred roads, he pointed out.

PETA had earlier campaigned against the use of elephants for polo in Jaipur and the keeping of Rajkumar, an elephant in captivity in Mumbai. Rajkumar was later shifted to the Thiruvananthapuram zoo.

Mr. Jayasimha suggested that the Captive Elephants Management Rules 2003 should be strictly implemented to prevent incidents of cruelty to elephants.

The association is planning to carry out extensive campaigns highlighting the plight of the elephants in captivity.

K.S. Sudhi

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