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Estman Radio Text
Estman Radio Text
Eastman Radio Text

My name is Brigitte Uttar Kornetzky. I am the Swiss Ambassador of the FIAPO in India regarding elephants in captivity.
FIAPO is worldwide the largest umbrella organization for wildlife conservation, animal protection and environmental issues, and represents more than 50 member organisations all over India.

A few month ago, FIAPO successfully lobbied  India`s Ministery of Environment & Forests to ban the captivity of any cetaceans such as dolphins and whales. India has put a mile stone in the history of these sentinent animals, even acknowledging them as „animal persons“(verbatim). Other countries should take home an example. Dolphins and whales belong in the ocean, unfettered! Their cruel butchery in Japan, or on Vager and the Faroe Islands, just a thousand kilometers north from Switzerland, is an annual horror. Local people believe that God has given them the cetaceans to be slaughtered. Twisted minds wielding weapons! Even SeaShepard has not been able to stop this blood bath yet. Such is our world. Whales and Dolphins belong in the ocean. Captivity is wrong. However, let`s talk about elephants here. They belong in the jungle!

Our project is called „Unchaining God“. As the Swiss Ambassador of this organization, my quest is to free the Indian elephants from captivity, rehabilitate them to their natural environments and remove their chains. Human torture must stop. We could use your help and collaboration!

Just a few facts here:

Elephants are very clever and intelligent animals. They have excellent memory and social behaviors. This ability of memory is shamelessly abused by us humans. Taming wild elephants and training them is beyond brutality. It is criminal. The elephants suffer the worst of injuries and carry stigma and pain of human torture for the rest of their lives. A tusk greedily cut too close to the nasal cavity causes constant livelong pain. The torture to brake their natural spirit and make them submissive has to be sentenced the strongest way possible. Every tourist, who wants to ride an elephant, should be aware, that by doing so he is supporting the big business with the elephants and their tortured lives, no matter if it is in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Burma, India or elsewhere. These exploited animals have become defenceless. They live in apathy. They were tortured until they have given up in order to serve human greed and selfishness. Beeing afraid of even more torture, they have submitted to their destiny of being slaves for the rest of their lives. Whether for greed or for their domestication, cruel human excesses must be stopped!!! Except, the hour of revenge has come, which in all cases ends deadly for humans.

As for Africa, in the year 2013, an estimated number of 30`000 elephants have been brutally slaughtered of their ivory, more than eighty per day. If we`re not capable to stop this butchery, as well as for the rhinos, both species will be poached to extinction. In that sense, the Indian elephant has it a little better. But, is he really in a better position?

Female elephants we find in the north of India. They salut to tourists, carrying them on their back to sight seeing places like Amber Fort in Jaipur. Dry and hot climate and an enormous traffic are the smaller of all evils. The tourist busses stop at the side of the road to take a snap shot and give alms to the begging god, in order to take some pictures home for the family album. Look, we have been to India, too.

No one looks directly in the eyes of these elephants to see how blended they are by the glazing sun, no one sees the scarfs on their bodies, no one knows about their fevers, no one takes notice of their often swollen and cracked feet. And no one is looking underneath these feet, which quite often show wholes in the size of a fist with exposed tow bones, and cracked skin across the sole. Exposed to the hot sun and average 40-45C in a dry desert climate with drastically dropping temperatures at night, this elephant is hired for walking on weddings and playing polo, quite often oil sheiks with their harems from arabic countries. There is barely time to sleep for them, even less time to take the food. The food is literally „beaten“ into their mouth like the food into stuffed gooses throat before Christmas… In a very short time they have to take the most possibly nutrition in order to go back to work to make money for their owners.  Not all elephant owners are bad, however, unfortunately the good ones are in the minority. Of course, there are also mahouts who are meaning well with there animals. But they are the few exceptions of the rule of using violence as an educational method while taking care of the elephants.

In the north as in the south of India elephants live in chains. They are the property of the Indian government. The slavery (Verknechtung) of this royal animal finds its lowest expression in zoos, the conditions for captivity are beyond dignity. With concrete floor under their feet and jail grid in front of their eyes they are extremely suffering under these artificial circumstances. In this respect, the forest elephants might have it a little better. Hundreds of temple elephants in the south of India are the symbols of royalty, wisdom and maleness. They carry the idol of God. Hindu people worship these elephants as god Ganesh. They are expected to withstand firecrackers and fanfares, which in no distance to their ears were shot in the sky, with no possible „objections“ or movement of the animal whatsoever. Motionless, in apathy and with heavily chained feet he has to withstand more than two thousand festivities per year. The sound level can`t be measured. Not one of the at least five south Indian doctors could not or did not wanted to tell me about the health condition of the elephants ears.

These elephants stand like a rock in the surf, and they are crying… I will never forget their whining. They are anything else but made out of rock. There is a tender soul under thick skin. They will never forget, that they were beaten, and they will never forget if someone is good to them. It is engraved, scarred into their memory, and unlike bears, they would transmit their cultural memory to the next generation. But, there won`t be one, born under the circumstances of captivity, and living not longer than a few years if at all, or being able to survive more than a few months. The cultural memory which could safe them from us humans, is failing because of the conditions in captivity in general.
With an Indian saying, an elephant alive is one Lakh Rupees, and a dead elephant is one and a half Lakh Rupees, because of his skin, his Hufs, his ivory. In fact, the value of an Indian elephant is enormous. A temple elephant medium size is estimated about twenty Lakh Indian rupees, this is about a half million US$.

The project:

According to the minister of the environment and forest an estimated 4`000 elephants live in captivity in India. Our project is to phase out and rehabilitate the Indian elephant in captivity to his natural living conditions. As for to do so, an enormous apparatus and organization is necessary, starting with education for the population, special learnings and trainings for the mahouts to become caretakers, solutions for the owners of the animals, a.s.o. We need to build rehabilitation facilities, which could be co-finanzed with controlled ecotourism. The animals need constant medical care, and jungle like living conditions, which garantee kilometers of walk per day, and much much more. But mostly important, that they can eat as much as they want and whenever they want to eat. Difficult enough will be the training for the mahouts to understand the changes in the handling. Between broken English-language barriers up to so called long traditions of how they think the elephants should be handled, this certainly will not be easy to relearn and restructure. The traditional methods of training the elephants are yelling and screeming of the mahouts, and heavy beating, which is extremely painful for these sentinent animals. The elephants do not even have the chance to react or defend themselves, without receiving even more painful beats. They suffer chronical pain.

Mostly important, the law from 2009 needs to be implemented in India. Selling and buying elephants is forbidden since the law has been sentenced. The illegality all over India needs to be performed and controlled.  About 70 elephants are living in 15-18 zoos. The zoos very often are in catastrophical conditions regarding hygienic, food and living conditions. In general, zoos and circusses do not provide medical care to their elephants, and in some cases they do not even provide enough food to their animals. Per law from 2009, the zoos are forbidden to require new elephants. However, the number of elephants in zoos is constantly increasing. There are no controls according to the law. The same applies for the one hundred and twenty five elephants in Jaipur in the state of Rajasthan.

As for the one hundred and twenty five elephants in Jaipur working in tourism, until recently they had no medical care either. In 2012, I have shot a film there about the ayurvedic medicine for these elephants, as well as the circumstances they are living in… until a serious case happened. Based on miserable health conditions, and lying down for more than five weeks on the ground with bone infection and two compound fractured front legs, with the enormous effort on location of Help in Suffering and Humane Society International, and the permission from the high authorities Mr. S. Ahmat, the (now former) Secretary of the State of Rajasthan, we were able to put the elephant Sita to sleep. The first case of euthanasia is a very unique case, and the first in the elephant history in India. In the next following half year after shooting, at least ten more elephants have died… and at  least ten new elephants have been purchased.

The film with the title „Where the Elephant Sleeps“ I hope will soon enter the gauntlet of the well-knit film industry, and I hope it will find a broad audience still in 2014. Based on the story of the film, meaning the above mentioned case of euthanasia of the suffering elephant Sita, and with gratitude to the foundation of Humane Society International, the one hundred and twenty five elephants in Jaipur are helped. Humane Society International has sponsored an elephant mobil with three veterinarians on board to give medical treatment to the 125 or more elephants in Jaipur. They are on the road 24 hours x 7days a week. Also, the relation between mahouts, owners, and the animal doctors have improved to the better. Also, on my initiative and of some responsible people from Elephant Village, we could achieve that the government of Rajasthan has built an elephant hospital in Hathigaon, Elephant Village. However, medical equipment for the lab is still lacking.

The biggest change we need to achieve is to liberate these approximately four thousand elephants off their chains. We need to provide sanctuaries and an infrastructure where these sentinent animal can live an elephants life. An elephant with average size eats 200-300 kg fodder per day which he is eating during almost the full day while moving in the jungle. And they need daily and medical care. Elephant owners and mahouts must learn that their thinking should be based on love and freedom for their animals, not on power, exploitation and slavery. There is a lot to do. Let`s get started!
Changes can be done if we are all together in this. Let`s get started.

Please support this project. Here is the link for donations:    Please mention the purpose in the above field for „FIAPO Captive Elephant Project” when the site opens.

Last but not least, if there is a music band, I would like to produce „The Elephant Song“. The proceeds will go to the suffering elephants.
In the name of all elephants, thank you very much for your kind attention and support of this big project.
Please spread the word and forward this to your friends and the general public. Our vision should die last.
Thank you.

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