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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2731

Another white elephant

By Daya Dissanayake

Elephants are in the news, again. At least it would keep humans from forgetting the sad plight of the elephants around the world.

There is a saying in Lanka that the tail of a dog could never be straightened. The tail of the Lankan dog had remained curved for the past 2000 years. So is the mind and character of the elephant owners and users. They will not change. Our elephants have also been tortured for the past 2000 years or more. And it had been the same story in India too. Even king Asoka, with all his good deeds after he became Dharmasoka, would have used elephants for parading, for processions and even for hard labour.

The Asian Tribune May 29th, reported about the project to be launched by Wildlife SOS, to rescue the street elephants of India. Reportedly Wildlife SOS has been doing a very good job to save the dancing bears. But this looks like just another project launched with all good intentions, but which could do more harm than good.

There is no way that the elephants on the streets and in the temples or zoos or in workplaces could benefit from any welfare program. The only way to help them is to send them back into the wild, after a certain amount of rehabilitation for them to get used to their wild environment. We can improve the welfare of human prisoners, who have been put in prison for their misdeeds.

These men have to be in prison, if that is what the law of the country has decided. But what have the elephants done, to deserve such life long imprisonment? And instead of freeing them from captivity, why should we try to improve their welfare? It is something that could never be done. The mahouts and the owners of the elephants will never change, because they are the true beasts among us. If not they would not have captured, or keep torturing the poor innocent animals.

Keeping an elephant in captivity is not easy, and it also costs a lot. The animal has to be fed, whether the owner likes it or not. The cost of feeding an elephant is very high. In Lanka it is about US$ 400 per month. A man would not spend so much money unless he had a good return on it, and the only way he can earn it is by using the animal. Thus the owner of an elephant is no different from a pimp. We cannot improve the welfare of the unfortunate women who are sexually exploited, by trying to reform or train the pimps!

Even of we offer them alternate employment, the pimp will go back to his old job, because it brings easy money with no hard work. All the work would be done by the poor women. It would be the same with the mahout. He does not have to carry logs, all he has to do is to prod the poor elephant to do his bidding. So why should he give up such a job? He does not feel the pain of the elephant.

There is no way a mahout or the elephant owner could treat an elephant “humanely and with compassion". The only humane way to treat an elephant is by sending him back to the jungle. If not the animal would become a huge burden for them to maintain.

Wildlife SOS intends to monitor the illicit transfer of elephants from city to city. This means that this organization will allow the elephants to remain in captivity. In a world where even law enforcement agencies cannot monitor the human trafficking, how could we expect to monitor what people do with their elephants? If this works, the police could implant microchips in the prostitutes they arrest, so that they could keep a track of them too.

Oh the things we do in the name of humanity!

Let us put all available funds, our time and effort to free all elephants and all other animals from captivity and let them live free.

- Asian Tribune -

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