THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Adding injury to insult, animal lovers in the UK held a protest meeting in front of the Indian High Commissioner office the other day seeking to stop the torture of elephants in Kerala. They also urged international tourists to stay away from the state while touring India. For the Kerala Tourism Department, it seems it is a case of one step forward, two steps back, while it is trying to brand and market the state as a paradise for holiday makers.
The activists who staged the protest under the banner of Action for Elephants UK condemned Kerala and has branded illegal treatment of elephant as ‘arguably the worst case of animal cruelty in the world’, The Independent daily in the UK reported. The outfit has reportedly written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to change the systems allowing the cruelty to continue unchecked.
Signed by celebrities, including primatologist Jane Goodall, actress Joanna Lumley and former MEP and environmentalist Stanley Johnson, Modi, who is visiting Britain for the Commonwealth leaders’ meeting, received the letter saying the state of Kerala – which has a higher number of the captive elephants than any other state – is ‘ground zero for elephant torture’, the daily reported.
State tourism director P Bala Kiran said this is a very serious issue and it will have long lasting impact on the tourism sector of the state if not addressed properly. He also said the festivals and elephant parades are an integral part of the tradition of Kerala over the years. Many of the videos being circulated among animal lovers’ groups outside the country are really five to 10 years old.
At present, the elephants are managed and treated gently. If there are any isolated issues, it can be addressed, he said. But these campaigns taking place outside the country are potent enough to create a bad impression about Kerala in the international tourist platforms, he added.