In 2007, Masini, a 10 years old female captive temple elephant, was found by the Tamil Nadu forest department as a wild calf of just 3 months old in the forests of Kargudi near Mudumalai. She was brought to the Forest Department’s Theppakadu elephant camp in the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR). Factors such as space, forest area, cool climate and her bonding with other elephants in the camp helped her achieve a sense of freedom and a good quality life. Disregarding Masini’s natural and wild instincts and her way of living, she was ‘donated’ to Samayapuram Temple in 2016, located at Trichy, by the then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Ms. Jayalalitha.
Recently, Masini, who generally has a calm and peaceful demeanour, ended up killing her mahout by trampling him. This unfortunate incident of the elephant’s rage is alarming and clearly highlights the impact of living a life without liberty, autonomy, dignity or being able to socialise with others of her own kind. At present, Masini is temporarily housed to be treated for severe injuries inflicted on her while she was at the temple. Her daily routine would comprise of going to the temple every morning and evening and being made to ‘bless’ devotees. She was kept at a shed nearby in solitary confinement.
Masini needs to be rehabilitated for good to her natural surroundings, back to the Forest Camp where she was raised, away from the captive conditions of the temple where she was constantly being goaded and being deprived of a dignified life and bodily liberty. These captive conditions have emotionally disturbed Masini and are contrary to her interests and emotional as well as physical well-beings.
FIAPO has asked the Minister of Forests, Tamil Nadu to recognise Masini's status as a non-human person and rehabilitate her immediately to protect her rights, including:
1. Right to life with dignity
2. Right to bodily liberty, integrity and autonomy
3. Right to interact and socialise with other elephants
Masini is an autonomous and she values her liberty in ways similar to humans. In numerous ways she has expressed her distress but it has fallen to the deaf ears of the temple authorities and the Forest Department of Tamil Nadu. Animals have an inherent right to live a dignified or quality life which for Masini would include bodily liberty, socialisation with others of the same kind and expression of natural behaviour.
The ailing Samayapuram Temple elephant Masini was shifted late on Friday night to the Veterinary College and Research Institute at Orthanad in Thanjavur district for a complete medical check-up. Click To Read More