A 14-year-old elephant whose abuse outside a Hindu temple inspired a protest by Paul McCartney is still living in horrific conditions, with shackles around his legs and regular beatings, an animal rights group said on Friday.
The Indian government had ordered the elephant, named Sunder, returned to the wild after McCartney highlighted the animal’s plight during a 2012 trip to India.
Instead, a local politician took Sunder home and shackled him outside a poultry shed, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said. The group also released a video that it says shows Sunder in December last year, writhing in pain and struggling to stand as a handler strikes him.
The politician, Vinay Kore, could not be reached, but Tara, one of Kore’s servants, confirmed Sunder stays outside the home.
“The elephant is kept at the poultry shed and is healthy and fine,” Tara said by telephone on Friday.
PETA director of veterinary affairs in India Manilal Valliyate said domestically kept elephants face a grim existence in India. Many Hindu temples keep elephants outside their doors to give blessings to visitors, but the animals are often poorly treated.
“The way elephants are kept and treated here in India violates almost all norms,” he said. “Sunder is just one example.”
McCartney was moved by the treatment of Sunder — which means “beautiful” in Hindi — outside Jyotiba Temple in Kolhapur, about 380km south of Mumbai. In July 2012, he wrote to the Indian minister of environment and forests, denouncing the abuse.
“I have seen photographs of young Sunder, the elephant kept alone in a shed at Jyotiba Temple and put in chains with spikes,” McCartney wrote. “I appeal to you to do what is right here and get Sunder post-haste to rehabilitation in the forest.”
A spokesman for McCartney did not immediately return a call for comment.