We have been catering nature at the smaller end of the spectrum these days. Now let us take a break and go for an elephant bath.

elephant bathing in kerala

Elephants love to take a bath, they enjoy all the scrubbing, splashing and the care given.

elephant bathing in kerala

elephant bathing in kerala

Date:  26 Sept 2007
Location: @ Kothamangalam, Ernakulam, Kerala, India
Camera: Nikon D80

Do you know that
Elephants are one of the most intelligent animals.
Elephants are self aware, could recognize themselves in the mirror.
Elephants have closely knit families/social groups.
Elephants have their own rituals if one of their family members are dead.
Elephants sometimes come back to the remains to pay homage to their ancestors.

You saw a happy series of photographs with the humans nicely interacting with the elephants. This hardly gives us an idea of the cruelties suffered by a majority of these large, intelligent creatures in the state of Kerala. Elephants are extensively used for carrying logs and for festivals in the state. For money and displaying the human pomp, the elephants go through all these:

  • Their soft feet directly comes to contact with the hot, burning, tarred roads for hours while walking from one location to another. Along with the heave chains on their feet, foot problems and wounds develop, which rarely get a chance to heal.
  • Endure the noise, the traffic, commotion, fireworks, while traveling and during festivals.
  • Cruel treatment by the mahouts. A recent article published in Kerala Kaumudi points out that around 90% of domesticated elephants in Kerala are made blind or partially blind, so that they can be easily controlled, and don’t target their mahouts when they are angry.
  • Lack of proper rest, food and treatment.

The more evolved and intelligent the being is, more is the depth of pain and sorrow.

There are rules in the state which address some of the issues stated above, but few cares! No wonder that in the recent few years mahouts have been thrown down and stamped by these otherwise gentle animals. It is time that they are at least given the proper attention they need! It is time for an elephant bath! They don’t belong to the cities; they are not a requirement for the festivals. Let us give some respect to the state animal of Kerala.

1. Plotnik et al., 2009: Self-recognition in the Asian elephant and future directions for cognitive research with elephants in zoological settings, Zoo Biology, 28, 1-13 [
2. Plotnik et al., 2006: Self-recognition in an Asian elephant, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., 103, 17053 -17057 [
3. McComb et al., 2006: African elephants show high levels of interest in the skulls and ivory of their own species, Biology Letters, 2, 26-28 [
4. Wikipedia
5. PETA India

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