Just when it looked like that life was improving for this temple elephant, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), India, has submitted a new veterinary inspection report to forest department officials in Tamil Nadu and Assam showing the continued abuse of the captive tusker, Jeymalyatha.
The temple elephant, known as Joymala in Assam, where she’s from, has been kept in the illegal custody of the Srivilliputhur Nachiyar Thirukovil temple for over a decade and she is now at the nearby Krishnan Kovil temple .
The recent evidence of abuse shows the use of weapons, including pliers by the latest mahout, who was put in place after numerous other mahouts were caught on video beating her.
The shocking report also reveals that the tusker was beaten so savagely she can be heard screaming in pain in a viral video filmed at the holiest of places — the sanctum sanctorum of the Krishnan Kovil temple, where she is kept chained to the floor.
Previously, a video showed Jeymalyatha screaming while being beaten by two mahouts at a rejuvenation camp.
Although the Tamil Nadu Forest Department had encouraged PETA India to inspect the elephant and report on its findings, the mahout refused to allow the group’s investigating team to openly take photographs and video footage.
Nonetheless, the team managed to covertly gather evidence.
Cruelty to Jeymalyatha appears to be so routine that the mahout used pliers to painfully twist her skin to control her even in front of inspectors. Numerous ankuses were found in the shed in which she’s chained by two legs for up to 16 hours a day.
For the four hours during which inspectors were with the elephant, no water or food was offered. And as she’s forced to spend most of her life on concrete, her feet are painfully infected, PETA India stated on Friday.
“Because mahout after mahout beats and harms Jeymalyatha and because she’s being kept illegally in the first place, authorities must seize this elephant for rehabilitation at a sanctuary where she can live in the company of other elephants, unchained,” says PETA India Director of Advocacy Projects Khushboo Gupta.
“No living, feeling being can tolerate being constantly chained, jabbed, and beaten. If authorities fail to help her, Jeymalyatha may act herself, by killing her mahout or others around her, as many other frustrated elephants have done.”
Following complaints filed by PETA India and the intervention of the government body the Animal Welfare Board of India after two viral videos showed mahouts beating Jeymalyatha, a first information report under sections of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, was registered against the mahout.
In addition, a wildlife offence report under the Wild Life (Protection) Act (WPA), 1972, along with the Tamil Nadu Captive Elephant (Management and Maintenance) Rules, 2011, was reportedly registered by the Srivilliputhur Forest Range in July.A
Jeymalyatha was never returned to the Assam Environment and Forest Department by the Srivilliputhur Nachiyar Thirukovil temple after her six-month lease expired.
The first video which surfaced in February 2021 and showed her being beaten at a rejuvenation camp, led Tamil Nadu’s Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowments Department to suspend the two mahouts involved.
The Tamil Nadu Forest Department booked them under Rule 13 of the Tamil Nadu Captive Elephants (Management and Maintenance) Rules, 2011, and Section 51 of the WPA, 1972.
Despite these actions, the second video showed that Jeymalyatha’s abuse continued at the hands of another mahout. And now, she continues to be abused by the latest mahout, as PETA India’s inspection report reveals.
There have been numerous incidents in Tamil Nadu and throughout India in which frustrated captive elephants killed their mahouts.
Examples include Deivanai, who was also from Assam, killed her mahout at the Subramaniya Swami temple in Madurai.
Masini, who is kept at the Samayapuram Mariamman temple in Trichy, and Madhumathi, who was used in a temple festival in Madurai, had also killed their mahouts.