On a trip to India in 2012, former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney was moved enough by the sight of a 14-year-old elephant named Sunder, abused by its handlers at Jyotiba Temple south of Mumbai, to engineer a campaign for the animal's release.
McCartney made agreements with Maharashtra State's forest department and Project Elephant, an Indian government organization, to move Sunder to a sanctuary. But an animal rights group's investigation in February found Sunder had simply been stuck in a chicken shack, shackled in chains heavy enough to prevent him from lying down to sleep.
Even worse, the investigation by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals captured video footage of the animal looking malnourished and being beaten by its handler. The photos above, exclusive to Yahoo News, show the elephant's condition, tightly chained and clearly not roaming free in a sanctuary.
Sunder has also been seen "writhing in pain and struggling to stand as the mahout (handler) strikes him repeatedly," said PETA director of veterinary affairs, Dr. Manilal Valliyate. "Sunder visibly recoils in fear from the weapon-wielding mahout, who continues to threaten him with violence after he has stood."
Sunder, at 14 still a young elephant, was no stranger to mistreatment. By the time the ex-Beatle found him, he had spent six years at the temple in the city of Kolhapur. He was covered in scars and had an eye injury and a hole in his ear. A local politician had donated the animal to the temple.
Now, said PETA, Sunder is languishing with no bedding in the shack, open on three sides to hot sun in the day, and cold weather and winds at night.
Sunder's situation is ironic in a country where an elephant-headed god, Ganesh, is worshipped by millions of Hindus, and whose most famous social activist, Mohandas Gandhi, once said: "You can judge the morality of a nation by the way the society treats its animals."
- Nature & Environment
- Paul McCartney
- Project Elephant