Animal Nepal is deeply saddened by the death of two safari elephants, both called Laxmi Kali, one who died last month, the other last week. Both elephants carried tourists into the jungle a few days short of their passing.
The safari elephants died reportedly from digestive problems but basically lost their lives to the systematic mismanagement that has become a feature of Nepal’s elephant safari industry.
In order to save human and elephant lives, and to improve the image of the tourism industry, authorities and elephant owners should cooperate to improve safari management at the earliest.
Both Laxmi Kalis had a history of ill health. 35-year old Laxmi Kali, Sauraha’s largest elephant, suffered from Tuberculosis. She was rented off her Indian owner by different Sauraha resort owners until she was leased by her present owner three years ago. She killed a Chinese tourist during the busy season in 2009 when she was overworked and underfed.
70-year old Laxmi Kali should have long been retired. In the absence of welfare regulations and a sanctuary, private elephants in Nepal basically work till they die. The old lady suffered from a severe spinal infection due to the heavy howdah which elephants are made to carry, with 4 adults and the mahout. She also suffered from malnutrition and digestive problems due to the fact that she lost most of her teeth. Although she was off work for 6 months when her spine got infected, she was made to work again recently, which must have been hell for her.
The suffering of safari elephants goes unabated in Nepal. Elephants are forced to make up to eight trips a day, even in the hot season. Their diet is inappropriate and they get beaten a lot. The hardworking animals are chained all the time when off duty. An Elephant Is Not A Machine, a survey into the welfare conditions of Sauraha’s elephants, learns that the animals’ welfare is greatly compromised.
We hope the elephant deaths will encourage the owners’ cooperative and authorities to intervene and end the acute suffering of elephants used in the tourism industry immediately. RIP Laxmi Kalis…