Woeful facts of Indian street elephants - 02

The problem of street elephants that are forced to beg in the urban and semi urban areas exists in many Asian countries. They are equipped to live in an open space in the wilderness near water resources and are unfit to live in the human settlements. Even though, street begging by elephants is banned in countries like India, the incidences are sporadic and they do occur in some remote places. As the punishment is mild for the law-breakers, there are no deterrents to such illegal activities. These amazing animals in urban setting lose their natural behavior and  are stressed and forced to live in an unsafe, unnatural and dangerous conditions. Consequently, their health is compromised. Though there are well-set laws covering cruelty to animals, etc.,  the plight of these elephants appears to be inadequately addressed and the awareness among the public is very poor. A holistic approach is needed to mitigate the problem of street elephants. The mahouts must be provided with alternative source of income to keep him and the animal healthy.

The elephants are endangered species and only a ban on sale of these mammals to private owners by the government can prevent the street elephants from begging on the urban and semi urban streets.

Woeful facts of Indian street elephants:

01. Street elephants are found in many Indian states and are not confined to one state.
02. Most of them are privately owned. The owner daily has to get enough dough to meet his family expenses as well as the food needs of the Jumbo. 
03. Owners  do not stick to one place and will  keep moving  from place to place and walk the elephant to the next destination.

04. Temple elephants are rarely involved in begging. Both the animals and the mahouts are well taken care of by the temples.

05. The street elephants stoically undergo lots of pain and sufferings being in the urban space far away from their  natural environment.

06. They face unsafe  urban conditions that take away their natural behavior. Their stressed condition is not conducive to good health.

07. They do not have comfortable housing in the human settlements. Nor do they get enough vegetation and food. Elephants tend to stay near water sources in their habitat and  lack of enough water is a major problem for the elephant keeper.
08. Their diet is irregular and  inadequate. Elephants  are capable of consuming  up to150 kg (330 lb) of food and 40 liter (11 US gal) of water in a day.  Major feeding bouts are in the morning, afternoon and night.  Unfortunately in the city environment, they are fed  poor quality, oily rich, junk food and left overs at irregular hours. Diet being irregular, they are prone to become obese.  Elephants have sensitive stomachs, yet most of the diet of a street elephant is contaminated by pollution, pesticides or both. Inadequate water may cause dehydration. A Mahouts may need  more than 60 gallons of water for their need.

09. Being in captivity and chained for an extended period, they had to stand all the time in a cramped space.

10. The elephant owners are more focused on making money than in the welfare of the jumbo. Consequently their physical and mental health are at stake or compromised They seldom take the animals to the vet, fearing hefty fees.
The elephant in the middle of a busy market, Siliguri, India. indiatoday.intoday.in
11. Street elephants are forced to walk several hours on the  tough concrete roads that result in  leg pain. Further, prolonged exposure to the sun may cause eye problems.

12. Because they are chained, cuts, abscesses and injuries  are caused by the prolonged friction of chains. They have difficulty  in lifting their  soles to the air to control body heat.

13. Female elephants being friendly and gregarious, used to live in groups in the wilderness, in the urban space, they are forced to lead a  solitary life.

14. Street elephants don't get adequate bath that they need regularly. Because of lack of slush or muddy water, they have difficulty in getting rid of flies, insects, etc. 

15. Dusting and skin care are essential for elephants. An elephant uses mud as a sunscreen, protecting its skin from ultraviolet light. Although tough, an elephant's skin is very sensitive. It's skin suffers serious damage if it does not have regular mud baths to protect it from burning, insect bites, and moisture loss. After bathing, the elephant will usually use its trunk to blow dust onto its body and this dries into a protective crust. 

16. Yet another problem that is appaling is  there are no records of health check-up of the animals and lists of owners.

17. Most importantly, in the case of male elephants (bulls), Musth is a serious issue, and if not treated before hand, it may be a threat to human life and the society, causing death and severe damages to vehicles, etc. Bull elephants are  characterized by highly aggressive behavior because of excessive production of Testosterone - reproductive hormones.  In Musth  an elephant  can have Testosterone level 60 times  greater than in the same elephant at other times. This  may force  the tusker to  be extremely aggressive and violent and may go on a rampage spree - running amuck.

18. Many elephants live on wasteland that is often littered with broken bottles, rusty cans, plastics and other hazards.They tend to cut their feet and this can lead to infection, blood poisoning and even death.

19. As for the resting area in the city, there is no  shades for these huge animals that prefer cool, shadow places in the wilderness. Exposed to the ravages of the sun, they suffer from severe sun burns.

20. On many an occasion, the elephants have to tolerate brutal, physical abuse with the Ankush by the brutish mahouts in the name of disciplining the animal.