Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Sacred Elephants in Tamil Nadu

Here’s an article from “The Daily Mail” about sacred elephants in Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu is a state in the South East:

That's hard to swallow! Sacred elephants put on a diet after offerings at Indian temple push them to 80 STONE overweight (not that you'd notice)

PUBLISHED: 20:05 GMT, 17 September 2012 | UPDATED: 07:25 GMT, 18 September 2012

Obese elephants in the Tamil Nadu region of India are now having to watch watch they eat and do more exercise, as they have become dangerously overweight.

Almost all of the temple elephants in the region, which is the far south of the country, are bigger than is deemed healthy, due to a combination of little or no exercise and over-feeding.

The elephants are chained to the temple's gates for most of the day, making any physical activity difficult.

Tourists feeding elephants treats in temples is part of the reason why they have become overweight

An elephant blessing a woman in the Brihadishwara Temple in the Tamil Nadu region of India, where the obesity problem amongst the animals has hit dangerous levels

Pilgrims visit temples in India to be blessed by the elephants in the hope it will bring them good luck

The problem is compounded further as pilgrims to the temples want to feed the giant animals in the belief it will bring them good fortune if they do.

Such is the importance pilgrims place on elephants in India they are often fed treats such as sweets and rice rather than the more varied diet including bamboo, grass and fruits they would normally eat in their natural habitat.

Temple officials are now looking to change the diets of their elephants on the advice of veterinary surgeons.

'The female temple elephant - 15 year-old Parvathi - is overweight by 500kg (80 stone) and efforts are on to reduce it,' said Pon Jayaraman, executive officer of the Madurai Meenakshi Amman temple told the BBC.

Wild elephants will naturally undergo far more exercise than those in captivity, often over demanding terrain.

Temple officials have said the elephants are taken for walks of at least 5km each day based on vet advice.

Dr AJT John Singh, former director the Wildlife Institute of India, called the practice a 'grave sin'.

'It's like confining a solitary person in... the middle of the forest,' he said. Elephants are social animals and have amazing social bonds with one another. Breaking that, and keeping the animal alone, is like solitary confinement, the greatest form of punishment to a human being.'

Another pilgrim receives a blessing in the Arunachaleswarer Temple Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu, India

The elephants are all being put on a diet and will be made to take part in more exercise in order to lose weight

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