PETA: Caught on Video: Elephant Sunder Beaten, Please Sign Petitions Below

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Posted 05/12/2013 Caught on Video: Elephant Sunder Beaten

An undercover investigation conducted by PETA this week has resulted in shocking footage of a mahout (handler) violently beating Sunder, a 14-year-old elephant at the centre of a PETA petition in the High Court of Bombay, with a thick wooden pole. The video reveals a malnourished-looking Sunder, chained by two legs, writhing in pain and struggling to stand as the mahout strikes him repeatedly with the pole. Sunder visibly recoils in fear from the weapon-wielding mahout, who continues to threaten him with violence after he has stood.

Sunder Being Beaten

Sunder was chained and abused for six years at the Jyotiba Temple in Kolhapur, and following orders by the Maharashtra Forest Departmentand Project Elephant, which operates under the central Ministry of Environment and Forests, to retire Sunder to a sanctuary, Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) Vinay Kore, who had given the elephant as a “gift” to the temple, sent him to be chained in an old, dark poultry shed in Warananagar instead.

The former Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and current Head of Forest Force, SWH Naqvi, has also failed to implement the state and central government orders. Just this week, Kore was reported to have claimed to the media that Sunder is fine and healthy, while Vijay Shelke, Deputy Conservator of Territorial Forests – Kolhapur division, said that “every month a veterinary doctor visits the place to check the elephant” and that “we also guide the mahout and local caretakers”. These claims are in spite of the fact that Sunder’s legs show scarring from abuse, he has a low weight, and he is being forced to stand on concrete all day with no opportunity for exercise, which is essential for elephants’ health.

“He is fearful of the mahout”, says international elephant expert Dr Mel Richardson, who examined PETA India‘s video of Sunder. “From what I can see his legs and feet are in bad shape. He is in a dangerous situation and needs relief – no chains, natural substrate, and space to exercise.”

You can help Sunder:- Take action to urge authorities to free Sunder to a sanctuary today.

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Posted 05/12/2013  PETA Goes to Court for Sunder

PETA India has filed a petition with the High Court of Bombay asking the Maharashtra Forest Department (MFD) to implement its previous order – as well as the recommendation from Project Elephant under the Ministry of Environment and Forests – and retire 14-year-old elephantSunder, who spent six years chained at the Jyotiba Temple in Kolhapur, to a sanctuary.

Following pressure from PETA, more than 26,000 people who have signed PETA India’s online petition and celebrities such as Pamela Anderson and Paul McCartney, who have written to authorities, the MFD ordered that Sunder be sent to a sanctuary. Instead, he was locked in an old, dark poultry shed and chained at the behest of Vinay Kore, a local member of the Legislative Assembly.

Sunder’s body shows visible signs of severe abuse. Photos from August 2013 show how Sunder is forced to stand on concrete all day and denied exercise, which is essential to his mental and physical well-being. In fact, his current living conditions are so poor that they could predispose him to foot and joint diseases, which could eventually kill him. He’s also small for an elephant of his age and underweight as a result of years of inadequate nutrition.

Please take action to help free Sunder NOW!

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Posted 06/07/2013 Legal Notice Served to Free Sunder

In August 2012, the Maharashtra Forest Minister ordered SWH Naqvi, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) for wildlife, Maharashtra, to move Sunder, the 13-year-old elephant who has been kept chained inside a dark shed at Jyotiba Temple for six years, to a wildlife rehabilitation centre identified by PETA.

But the PCCF and temple authorities have not complied with this order or with the Central Zoo Authority’s recommendations for improving Sunder’s living conditions and have instead allowed Vinay Kore, a local member of the legislative assembly and the person who donated Sunder to the temple, to reportedly hide him in a dark, heavily guarded poultry shed near a dairy facility at Amrut Nagar (Warananagar), Kolhapur. In response, PETA India’s lawyer and India’s leading animal advocate, Raj Panjwani, has sent a legal notice to the PCCF, Jyotiba Temple authorities and Kore.

Sunder has been kept chained by temple authorities since 2007 and has scars covering his body, a severely injured eye that was likely caused by a beating and a hole in his ear that was caused by an ankus, an iron rod with a hook at the end. Constant physical and psychological abuse can cause captive Indian elephants to lash out, as Sunder did in August. He became violent and tore down a pillar as he tried to flee his handlers. He was subdued and returned to captivity.

The Forest Minister’s order came shortly after this incident as a result of a rigorous campaign led by PETA. Pamela Anderson and former Beatle Paul McCartney lent their support to the campaign by writing letters to government officials.

You can help SunderTake action now.

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Yet More Elephant Deaths: Speeding Drivers Derail Jumbo Safety

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“I don’t believe this, I’ve just done a post for elephants killed on rail tracks, then I find this one! Obviously this is an urgent matter which must be addressed asap; before any more are killed. I still think prosecuting the train drivers who kill or injure elephants by going too fast… would make them slow down! (Note this says it was 6 elephants killed, where as the previous post said it was 5, unless they are counting the pregnant female as one?!””

The spree of killing of the national heritage animal, elephants, on railway tracks continues unabated. A week ago, six jumbos were mowed down by a speeding train in Odisha and four others met a similar fate in West Bengal’s Buxa Tiger Reserve on Saturday night. The respective forest departments and the railways have now indulged in blame game.

The Director of Project Elephant, Environment Ministry, AM Singh, has claimed that the accidents took place as in both the cases the trains were moving at a high speed. The drivers obviously took no note of the signs along the tracks stating that it was an elephant crossing zone.

At a recent visit to Odisha, Singh gave four major suggestions to the local forest and railway officials.

These included:-

  1. lowering of speed,
  2. clearing all vegetation around at least 30 metres of area on either side of the track,
  3. installation of high beam lights near the signs for better visibility
  4.  mandatory hooting by trains crossing a vulnerable stretch.

While four elephants were killed and two calves seriously injured by the speeding Gauhatibound Jhaja Express in the Buxa Tiger Reserve on Saturday night, six elephants were mowed down by the Super-fast Coromandel Express in Odisha’s Ganjam district last week.

“In both the cases, the trains were passing at a speed of about 110-120 km/hour,” said Singh. Talking to The Pioneer, he pointed out that when signs had been put along the track, there was no justification for drivers to cross the prescribed 50 kmph limit.

He further pointed out that the vulnerable tracks across the 1,800-km stretch of Chennai-Howrah route is less than 10 km in length, and lowering the speed of the train can delay the train maximum by eight minutes. “What the hell is 8 minutes of anyone’s time when it comes to the life of an elephant??”

The issue would be taken up at the Railway Ministry level, informed Singh. He regretted that the decisions taken at high-level meetings between the Environment Ministry and the Railway Ministry in September 4, 2009, had not been followed.

SK Mohanty, Divisional Railway Manager of Khurdha Division under East Coast Railway Division, however, claimed that that four of the six points of the advisory have been carried out. These include erecting sign boards, having a sensitisation programme for railway personnel, clearing vegetation on both sides of the railway track. He said that the only thing which was yet to be done was the construction of underpasses.

He alleged that lapses are on the part of the forest department to engage trackers, who could inform the railway control rooms about the presence of elephant herds. The alert was to be for two hours and should relate to a section of two km only.

Chief Wildlife Warden, Odisha, JD Sharma, however, said, “We had informed the railways in advance that elephants might cross the track around midnight. Timely action could have averted the accident.” He also said that it is not practically possible to predict the movements of elephants so much in advance.

While the forest department and the Railways are hurling accusations at each other, experts have questioned the failure of the forest department to regularly track and monitor train movements in such pre-identified sensitive areas.

Biswajit Mohanty, member, National Board For Wildlife, too questioned the wildlife department “on its failure to book cases against the DRM, Khurda Division, for the death of a Schedule I species by a train run under his direct control and supervision.

“By merely booking a prosecution against the driver of Coromandal Superfast Express, the department has not discharged its duty of taking required legal action against the Railways,” he added.

Commenting on the situation, RP Saini, field director, Buxa Tiger Reserve, said, “We will lodge an FIR against the railways, but nothing will come of it.” According to him, if one genuinely wants to save the elephants, movement of trains on this track after sunset has to be stopped with immediate effect.

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