KOCHI: M A Haridas, owner of Mangalamkunnu Ayyappan, claimed the auction happened during the last Meena Bharani festival. “The elephant was taken on rent by the festival committee of a temple in Thrissur. They gave the elephant on rent to another temple without informing us. As the amount was remitted to the temple renovation account we didn’t oppose. But the Elephant Owners’ Association has given strict instructions to people who take elephants on lease not to sublease the animals,” he said.
Captive elephants are considered wild animals under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and using them for commercial activities is a crime, said A G Babu, member of the Elephant Monitoring Committee for Ernakulam and Kottayam districts.
“This is a marketing technique employed by elephant owners to tack up the rent for elephants. According to the MoEF notification issued in 2003, ownership of elephants can be transferred only by hereditary rights. Only a few elephant owners in Kerala possess ownership certificates.
The Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) has issued a circular to test the testosterone level of elephants paraded in festivals and to test the urine and dung of the animals to ensure they are not suffering from diseases. Such steps will help reduce the elephants torture,” he said.
“We have noticed the report regarding leasing and subleasing of elephants. There is no information of animal torture. We will check whether there is any violation of the rules and initiate appropriate action,” said Assistant Conservator of Forests (Social Forestry) a Jayamadhavan.