By J. Arockiaraj
MADURAI: Forest officials in Madurai booked the owner of an elephant under the sections of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 for making the animal stand in the sunlight for several hours during a wedding ceremony in Iyer Bungalow area here.
District forest officer Nihar Ranjan received a tipoff that a 22-year-old female elephant -- named Malatchi -- was made to stand in the sunlight after being transported on a lorry.
Based on his instructions, Wildlife Ranger (in-charge), V Raveendran visited the place. He seized the truck used for transportation of the animal and summoned elephant's owner Indira Lakshmanan for inquiry.
"We have not seized the elephant. The elephant owner will be prosecuted," he said.
It was the first incident reported here this year. Forest officials booked seven cases in 2014 and prosecuted mahouts and elephant owners on charges of torturing the animal.
"One case of elephant being subjected to torture has been booked. Stringent action will be taken against the owners torturing the elephants," Ranjan stressed.
There are 10 elephants in private custody here, including the ones at temples. Many such cases of torture of pachyderms were reported earlier where forest officials slapped huge fine on the owners.
"We don't know how many such incidents go unreported," wondered a forest official.
Meanwhile, animal lovers pointed out the amount of torture the pachyderms had to undergo in private custody. They have to walk on hot tarred roads and had to spend a solitary life though elephants live in herds in the forest.
"They are forced to stand hours together in huge gatherings amidst chaos of fireworks and loud noises," said Sriram Janak, a city-based wildlife photographer.
Most of elephants are underfed, and they suffer from several diseases.
"The worst part is that the tails are clipped and tusks cut. The tail hair is very important for the elephant as it would help them drive mosquitoes away," he said.
Animal lovers urged the governments to stop issuing licences to private parties to own elephants.