A video of Joymala (or Jeymalyatha), a female elephant in Tamil Nadu’s Nagercoil district in India, being beaten by a mahout (the man supposed to be her caretaker) has been widely protested by animal protection organisations. She has been held captive in the Krishnan Kovil temple, where she is kept chained to the floor, and the video shows how sticks, pliers and chains were used to inflict her pain.
Although the Tamil Nadu Forest Department had encouraged the animal rights organisation PETA India to inspect the elephant and report on its findings, the mahout refused to allow its investigating team to video footage. However, they managed to do it.
A First Information Report (FIR) has been filed under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960. In addition, a wildlife offence report under the Wildlife (Protection) Act and Tamil Nadu Captive Elephant (Management and Maintenance) Rules has also been registered.
According to PETA India, in 2021, another video was recorded showing her being beaten at a ‘rejuvenation’ camp in the southern state. PETA complained to the forest department officials in Tamil Nadu and Assam showing continued abuse. After protests that followed the release of the first video, Tamil Nadu’s Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department suspended the two mahouts involved. PETA said, “Cruelty to Jeymalyatha appears to be so routine the mahout used pliers to painfully twist her skin to control her even in front of the inspectors. Numerous ankuses were found in the shed in which she’s chained by two legs for up to 16 hours a day… There have been numerous incidents in Tamil Nadu and throughout India in which frustrated, captive elephants have attacked or killed their mahout.”