Elephants Ill-treated in Kerala; Banned ‘Ankush’ Still in Use

Though government has banned the use of ‘ankush’, a goad also known by its local name ‘thotti’, for controlling elephants, a large number of mahouts in the state are still using the weapon, animal rights campaigner Heritage Animal Task Force said. The activists sought immediate intervention of the Centre and state governments to put an end to the torture meted out to elephants.

However, ankush, the sharp edged weapon made of iron is used on sensitive parts of elephants to compel them to obey the commands of mahouts, said V.K. Venkitachalam, Secretary of the Task Force. Its semi-circle portion, which can cause serious harm, is found applied on the elephants to carry out stressful works.

“The state forest department has issued an order in May this year banning the use of iron ankush. But, the government order is violated daily by mahouts whenever they manage their elephants,” Venkatachalam said in a release.

Ankush (anathotti) with the sharp iron part that can cause real harm.
Ankush (anathotti) with the sharp iron part that can cause real harm.

The order came into existence based on a recent judgement by Rajasthan High Court, according to which elephants should not be controlled by iron ankush.

The Inspector General of Forests (Project Elephant) had asked state forest departments to enforce the order. As a result, state Chief Wildlife Warden had issued a circular in May banning the use of iron ankush in the state and directed all divisional officers to take strict action to enforce the ban.

The Task force also alleged that the elephants have been illegally paraded for festivals though the Supreme Court had given strict orders against using them without prior permission from the District Collector, who is the chairman of the district committee for the prevention of cruelty against elephants.

In a petition to the Chief Wildlife Warden, Secretary Animal Welfare Board of India and District Collector, the Task force demanded stringent action against the festival organisers. It also asked the authorities to implement the ban of ankush and capture belts.