CHENNAI: A female elephant from Assam is allegedly being held in illegal custody by a temple at Srivilliputhur for years without any valid documents. The 33-year-old pachyderm Joymala alias Jeyamalyatha was brought to Tamil Nadu allegedly on a temporary lease around 2008 and never sent back. Currently, it is at Natchiyar temple in Srivilliputhur while the owner is in Assam.
Respondig to an RTI query filed by animal rights activist Antony Clement Rubin, Wildlife Warden Office of Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary in Srivilliputhur, the ownership certificate of Joymala, a copy of which is available with Express, identifies the owner as Girin Moran, of Tinuskia district in Assam, and he claimed the elephant was kept in a place called Kakapathar in Assam.
Rubin said Joymala’s case is typical of Assam scam. Only recently, Assam forest department said 61 elephants leased to other States since 2008 have not been traced. Assam’s Wildlife Crime Prevention Unit report in December 2007 reported that 259 captive elephants transported outside the State between 2003 and 2007 have not returned.
State Chief Wildlife Warden Sanjay Kumar Srivastava told Express it is illegal to have an elephant without ownership certificate. “In our recent verification, we found there are seven elephants in Tamil Nadu whose ownership certificates were issued by Assam forest department or other States. Joymala is one of them. These are old cases and some have made a request for transfer of ownership, which the department has rejected.
Now, I have written to forest departments of respective States and the owners will be asked to take back the elephants.” Express was not able to contact the temple authorities for comment.
The recent example of such illegal trade is Malachi, whose original owner was in Andaman, but was used for begging and weddings in Madurai. Eventually, the elephant was rescued and moved to a rehabilitation camp in Tiruchy.