Taming Elephants Should Be Banned

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Essay – Taming Elephants Should Be Banned

Elephant is a wild animal. It cannot be domesticated, it can only be tamed. Forest is their habitat that is their home. It does not like to be away from his home and spend his life by getting tortured and in being slaves to humans. Elephants have been tamed for more than two thousand years.

If we continue to bring them up like this, the ducks will become completely dependent on humans and will forget how to fly and nest. Elephants don’t like human interaction. Every wild elephant has a respectful distance. Crossing the boundary would be dangerous.

Traditionally, elephants are captured using the pit-fall method. A pit is dug in the usual paths of the elephant. The pit is made four to five metres deep – four metre square at the top and three metre square at the bottom, so that the walls are slightly inclined. The pit is then covered with leaves and bamboo and camouflaged as much as possible so that the elephant doesn’t identify the pit and unknowingly falls into it. The pit is regularly inspected and even if it is not the trumpeting of the elephant when it falls is so loud that it can be heard as far as a kilometre. Once it is trapped, the concerned people were notified and expert mahouts with kumki elephants would arrive and bring out the trapped animal out within twenty – four hours or as quickly as possible. Next is the decoy method. This method was practised in South India, especially in Mysore. It was considered as the most dangerous method as it was used to capture large male elephants. A highly trained female kumki elephant would be used as a decoy when a huge solitary male was found. A man would hide under a blanket on the neck or under the abdomen of the kumki. Then she would be sent to graze near the male. As time passes, the elephant, especially if in musth, would become completely infatuated with the decoy, who would continually move away until the male gets exhausted, and at that moment his hind legs would be tied and with a noose tied around his neck, he would be taken to the training camp with the help of the kumkis. Another way is by using the tranquilizing dart. It is a dart gun which has a syringe filled with the tranquilizing drug instead of bullets. Jacob V. Chiran, a veterinarian was the first person to use the tranquilizing dart.

It was first used in Kerala – in Tirunellai, Palakkad, an elephant named Damodaran was killed in this manner on 22nd April, 1976 which shook the residents. The drug used in the tranquilizing dart was brought from Georgia. Using a gun, the drug-filled syringe is fired towards the elephant. When the syringe gets injected to the elephant’s body, it activates itself and the drug enters into the body. The drug does not enter the elephant’s through the tip as it is injected into our body. The holes are slightly away from the tip. The syringe is filled with carbon dioxide behind the drug and pressure is applied to it. As the syringe hits the elephant’s body, the cap slips off the needle hole with the carbon dioxide pushing the drug out inside the body.

In addition, a stiff cloth brush is attached at the back of the syringe for making sure by watching from the distance that they hit the target. Slowly, the elephant gets dizzy and completely tranquilised. Then the elephant was blindfolded with using a piece of black cloth. Finally it is taken with the help of kumkis. Though elephants are captured for human benefits, these elephants love to live with their family and herd like us, humans. They are pack animals. They do not like to be alone in deserted regions. Trapping an elephant in a pit, locking it in a cage and beating it up for days, leaving it hungry, burning it, frightening it with fire and sound causes it to lose its willpower. This type of ill treatment is called crushing. Even after this, if the elephant does not get tamed then the men make them blind by pouring gum from trees into their eyes. Through all these cruel processes, the elephant adapts slavery and starts following human orders which is mistaken as its friendship with them. How can this much cruelty lead to a friendship? The elephants are animals who live on cool and moist forest soil. So, they do not have hooves. As a result, their legs burn when they walk through roads and fields hot due to the intense heat of the sun.

Many tamed elephants have marks of burns on their feet. As elephants are accustomed to cool and shadowy regions, they have sweat glands only around the toenails. This makes them feel more hot. So, to cool down its body and also due to other mental problems, it flaps it’s ears. This flapping is also seen during the festival when noise is produced due to the playing of drums and various other instruments. This loud noise irritates the elephant which makes it to flap its ears. While travelling through a forest, an elephants gets to eat a large amount of nutritional food. On the other hand, a captive elephant gets affected by a disease called impaction due to the indigestible fibres of palm leaves which is the usual food they are given. This is a common disease in most captive elephants. Struggling for many days, the elephants finally succumb to death. Are you aware the amount of water required by an elephant? In one day, a wild elephant can drink up to 200 litres of water with forest being a cold area.

So, can you imagine how much more water will it require when it is in town? But the capturers are unable to provide the elephant with this much amount of water and also space. Even their thirst for water does not get fulfilled. Sores seen on the legs of most elephants are not just by the chains around their legs. Their mahouts repeated injure them at that region creating a deep cut. So, whenever the chain and that part of the skin come in contact with each other, they feel pain and also get reminded of the immense suffering they went through when this injury was created. As a forest inhabitant, elephants are scared of sound, smoke and fire. Elephants that attack farms and plantations are driven away by frightening them with fire and by bursting fire crackers producing loud noise and smoke. Holding it and tying it, and playing drums in front of it makes it experience unbearable mental stress. Baby elephants seen are constantly shaking their heads because of mental problem. It is not playing or rejoicing. No calf living in the forest would shake his head like this.

Elephants are prone to disease due to human contact. One of them is tuberculosis. The vast majority of natives have tuberculosis. The scary fact about this is that the wild elephants of the Western Ghats have also started getting tuberculosis due to elephants who have gone to work as Coopers. The elephant is not a part of our culture. Fifty years ago there were only 100 elephants in Kerala, except for those belonging to some Devaswom Boards and then to some coops. In the past, elephants were used for war and other things, so there were elephants in temples. Today even the richest Sri Padmanabha Swamy temple does not have it’s own elephant. But today there are more than 700 elephants in Kerala belonging to about 200 private individuals.

The Asian Elephant is one of the most endangered species of the world. Their habits are being lost due to human encroachment. In addition to this, the love of elephants is harming them and depriving them of their breeding opportunities. Elephants are living beings like us, humans, and like each and every biotic component of the earth, they too have the right to live. They also have feelings and emotions but their inability to speak should not be taken as an advantage and not treat them cruelly. Wildlife is an integral part of our planet. Elephants which are a part of the wildlife play a significant role in the ecology and food chain.

Destroying forests for human greed is destroying their need. Forest is their habitat and depletion of forest would naturally lead to their decline. Steps to should be taken conserve them such afforestation. Pollution can also cause damage to their habitat. This also should be controlled. Awareness should be spread about saving the environment. Measures should be taken to stop the capture of elephants. They should not be tortured and used for human entertainment. Not only elephants but all the animal species should be conserved at least for our future generation. Or a time would come when the beautiful animals would be only visible in the pages the picture books like the dinosaurs. So, let’s remember that.

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.” — Mahatma Gandhi

By Arunima A

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Taming Elephants Should Be Banned

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