Kerala initiates signature campaign for using elephants in temple festivals

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Thrissur (Kerala), Apr 30 (ANI): Scores of elephant-lovers and owners in Kerala are undertaking the task of collecting one million signatures on a petition to save the centuries-old tradition of parading caparisoned elephants during temple festivals, following a demand for a ban from animal protection agencies.

The main objective behind the campaign is to collect as many signatures as possible and send them to President Pratibha Patil, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and state Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan, for consideration before taking any decisions to ban the presence of elephants during the temple festivals.

"For the safety of elephants all the temple boards, locals and other authorities are greatly concerned and are taking several measures. But by showing false and unlikely love, some people are trying to stop elephants taking part in temple festivities and want them to be sent back to jungles. But this is not possible here because when we started collecting signatures, we noticed that many foreign tourists especially book their tickets to see temple festivals and to have a glimpse of caparisoned elephants. Thus we want elephants parading should go on as it is a part of the rich culture and tradition in Kerala," said P Sasikumar, General Secretary, Kerala Elephant Owners Federation, Thrissur.

Despite incidents of rampage and killing by the pachyderms, men, women, children and the elderly all queued up to sign the petition.

The resent reason for elephants creating havoc has been noticed by the officials that it is over-stressed as they are made to work long hours in several temple festivals in violation of rules.

The procession of elephants attracts several tourists who are awed by the rich glory and grandeur of the place.

It can be noted that a task force has been formed to protect elephants and their habitats across the country.

Project Elephant, which is being implemented in 13 states, would also address issues of man-animal conflict and welfare of domesticated elephants.

Thrissur is widely acclaimed as the land of elephant lovers. According to official records Kerala is home to over 750 captive elephants. By Juhan Samuel (ANI)

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