India: church and temple to stop parading elephants

 St George Malankara Orthodox Church, and the Sivagiri Mutt Temple, in Thessur, Kerala, have decided to stop parading elephants during religious festivals, following new Forest Department rules aimed at improving animal welfare. For many years now, the Aana Premi Sanghom (Elephant Lovers Association) and other animal rights groups have protested at the way elephants are treated during street festivals. The Forest Department introduced the regulations after reports showed that 86 captive elephants and 30 mahouts (handlers) were killed between September 2006 and July 2007. Reacting to the church decision to opt out of elephant parading, a spokesman said it was a good sign that the church could organise a festival without elephants. He said: "I hope other churches and temples follow our example." The Sivagiri Mutt Temple is reported to have taken its decision in keeping with the teachings of famous social reformer Sree Narayana Guru. "Not many are aware of the torture these elephants are subjected to in the name of the festivals" a temple spokesman said. "Sree Narayana Guru taught us not to inflict pain on even an ant." Source: APS/Gulf News

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