MADURAI: Based on a WhatsApp video clip showing an elephant being beaten up mercilessly by its mahout, Forest officials here on Thursday initiated action against its owner under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1876 and the Wildlife Protection Act 1972. The cases were dropped after the offence was compounded and a fine of `25,000 was imposed on the owner by the officials.
The video showed the mahout, who was reportedly inebriated, beating up the animal on Othakadai Main Road, and trying to climb atop the pachyderm which was too weak even to stand.
Onlookers videographed the incident on their mobile phones and forwarded it to District Forest Officer (DFO) Nihar Ranjan, besides informing him about the incident. The DFO, in turn, directed the Forest Range Officer Kumaresan to look into the matter. The video has gone viral in social media sites, evoking strong condemnation from animal lovers and the general public. Had the elephant turned violent, it would have caused severe damage to life and property in and around the spot, commented an FB user. Kumaresan said that the elephant was left in the custody of one Sundar (36), the mahout of the she-elephant, which was aged about 30 years. He was asked to take back the elephant after giving the animal a bath in the Ulaganeri canal on Othakadai Road, Kumaresan said. “The owner Indira was booked under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and imposed fine of `25,000 for leaving the elephant in the custody of the inebriated man. The case was dropped after when the owner paid the fine and was warned against abusing the animal,” he added.
“It is unfortunate that this is second incident of cruelty against elephant in a week. The other day an elephant was used for begging on the road. We are taking stringent steps to ensure that such incidents don’t happen in the city again. Moreover, a meeting of elephant owners has been called on September 30 and authorities of temples owning elephants in the city,” said DFO Ranjan.