An unholy bondage

  • 14/12/2004

An unholy bondage Worship of fauna and flora is a well-documented practice in India. Ganesha, the Hindu god of wisdom, is pictured as having an elephant's head. It is not surprising that temples have an inseparable association with elephants and the wealthy ones very often own a few of these animals.

With elephant numbers declining alarmingly in the wild, this centuries-old practice could save at least a few of these animals. However, there is a very unpleasant aspect to this picture: temple elephants suffer much physical abuse and are not even properly fed. A fully-grown adult needs at least 150 kilogrammes (kg) of food every day. But temple elephants receive less than 100 kg per day. The Asian elephant has a choice of upto 400 plant species when it forages in the wild. The temple elephant, on the contrary, receives only 4 species of fodder and practically can never forage naturally.

Such monotony impairs elephant health. The food items received by the animals, when they go out to beg, does compensate for the inadequacies of temple-diet