Animal rights activists opposed to animal use
Mangaluru: Animal welfare campaigners have raised their guns against the cruelty to elephants taking part in Mysore’s legendary Dasara. The load is almost a ton on the elephant that carries the Golden Howdah and it is marched on the flat tarmac for 9.4 kilometers from Amba Vilas Palace in central Mysuru to Bannimantap during the Jamboo Savari. The Howdah itself will weigh 750 kg, while the weight of Gaddige, Mahout and the caparison will add another 250-300 kg. “The trip takes no less than 2 hours. Isn’t that animal cruelty?” asked Rajiv Shetty, a Kambala organizer. “If the Animal Welfare Board thinks Kambala was animal cruelty, then even the Dasara Jamboo Savari amounts to animal cruelty,” he added. Even on Saturday, on the grounds of Mysuru Palace, a few elephants panicked when a mounted police horse displayed unruly behavior. This happens from time to time, but the government is determined to use animals in crowded places during Dasara, which stresses the animals, especially the elephants.
Gunapal Kadamba, a Kambala authority and promoter of Kambala Academy in Karkala, said, “Why omit horse racing? If these horses were continuously whipped by jockeys if the Animal Welfare Board turned a blind eye to the horses. at the Bengaluru Turf Club and at the Mysuru Turf Club, is it just because it was a rich man’s sport? Why force the poor elephant to walk with a ton of weight on its back just because the Mysuru Dasara has a royal halo and religious connotations? Kambala was stopped simply because it was a folk sport played by rural peasants. I remember the statement that all are equal before the law but some are more equal” , Kadamba said.
Senior forestry officials were also wary of such a situation. They said, on condition of anonymity, that the complexity of the conditions prevailing in the current Dasara put the animals under great stress, especially the elephants which were mentally very sensitive. There should be reforms to ease the burden of the howdah-bearing elephant and its mahout. But forest officials were mortally afraid of political masters and refused to tell them the truth.
Animal rights activists from Dakshina Kannada, citing the elephant report presented by the Karnataka Elephant Task Force in 2012, said that “elephants in captivity should only be used by the department for purposes such as forest patrols, tourist walks, biological research, elephant-human conflict management, or traded with other state forest departments for similar use.” Newly captured elephants should not be given to temples, circuses or other commercial uses. KETF says the Dasara festival in Mysore, where elephants are featured, is a prime example of Karnataka’s rich cultural history which should be preserved.
“Nevertheless, as a demonstration of the State’s commitment to addressing the conservation issues of its wild elephants as well as the welfare of its captive elephants, we suggest that the heavy 750kg golden howdah carried by the lead elephant during the Mysore Dasara procession either replaced by a much lighter replica or carried in a chariot drawn by the elephant.Such a symbolic gesture, especially as something that crowns a series of measures aimed at promoting elephant-human coexistence in Karnataka, could make the state a national and international leader in elephant conservation and bring down cruelty to animals.Especially when the elephant was a Schedule I animal of the Wildlife Act 1972,” explained Rathnakar Shetty, an animal welfare campaigner.
The Dasara elephants come directly to the urban areas of Mysuru and participate in training for the Dasara Jamboo Savari. They are made to stand in front of the 21 guns and withstand the sound of gunfire for almost 10 days every day. “I have seen them panic with every shot. After staying in the woods at various elephant camps, when all they hear is the sounds of the forests – their natural habitats, they are suddenly forced to participate in such noisy conditions of human civilization that can confuse them,” a retired forestry (wildlife) official told The Hans India.