Gruesome traditional torture of elephants triggers outcry

NewsflarePublished: November 22, 2017
Published: November 22, 2017

A video has surfaced showing a gruesome practice of elephant torture that is carried out secretly in Kerala, India.

The rare footage shows three men thrashing an elephant with sticks and metal rods when the behemoth, which is tied, collapses unable to take their beatings.

The beatings are part of a ghastly tradition called "ketti azhikk." In Malayalam "Ketti," means chaining the four legs, and "azhikkal" means releasing the chains.

The phrase is silent on the torture that comes in between the two acts of tying and releasing. During ‘ketti azhikkal,’ the elephant’s limbs are chained to four trees and then battered methodically.

In the past the torture was used to regain control over elephants, just emerging from the month-long "musth" period, when their testosterone levels would shoot up by over 60%. It was held that elephants would have forgotten to obey during the "musth" and would have to be "trained" again.

Elephant welfare activist Rajeev Kurup, who shared the video, traced the elephant in the footage to a village in Thrissur District.

He said elephants are subjected to "ketti azhikkal" more frequently now than in the past.

“Now mahuts change frequently due to commercialisation of elephant keeping. Each time a mahut changes the elephant is tortured to make it listen to the new man,” he said.

“'Ketti azhikkal' is now done in secrecy because of the uproar it creates. But the video shows that it still continues,” he added.

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