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SC directs registration of Kerala temples having elephants

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed that all temples possessing elephants and using them during religious functions in Kerala would be registered with district committees set up under relevant rules for proper and effective control over them with respect to the pachyderms.

“It will be the obligation of the state to see that the registration (of temples) is carried out,” an apex court bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice R. Banumathi said.

The registration of all the temples or Devaswom with the district committees would be done within six weeks.

Kerala strongly resisted the plea for the registration of elephants contending that there was a provision for a declaration by the owners of elephants and insistence on registration was “unnecessary”.

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Kerala’s stand was supported by the Centre, which said it was only the performing animals that needed to be registered and elephants participating in religious functions did not come under that category.

The court, however, said: “It shall be the duty of the state, the district committee, the temple management and the owners of the elephants to see that no elephant is meted with any kind of cruelty.”

To ensure that those committing cruelty on elephants do not go unpunished, the court further said, “If it is found (that elephants were being treated with cruelty), apart from lodging of criminal prosecution, they shall face severe consequences which may include confiscation of the elephants to the state.”

Referring to the provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1974, the court directed the chief wildlife warden to see that all captive elephants in Kerala were counted and take action against owners not possessing requisite certification.

The district committees, which are crucial for keeping a watch on the well-being of the elephants, are constituted under the Kerala Captive Elephants (Management and Maintenance) Rules, 2012, and have representatives from the Wildlife Welfare Board and people engaged in prevention of cruelty against animals and others.

The court’s order came on an application seeking court’s intervention to curb cruelties on elephants owned by the temples in Kerala and used for religious ceremonies and functions.

(IANS)

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A Study of Africa’s Bush Elephants

African elephants are known to love bathing, spraying and mud-wallowing.

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African bush elephants
Orphaned baby elephants are seen after being bottle-fed, at the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage near Nairobi, Kenya. VOA

A study of the African bush elephant’s vast network of deep wrinkles has found it is intricately designed to help the elephants keep their cool, fight off parasites and defend against sun damage, scientists said on Tuesday.

The fine pattern of millions of channels means the elephant’s skin can retain five to 10 times more water than a flat surface, the scientists said.

The research, conducted by scientists at Switzerland’s University of Geneva and the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, was published in the journal Nature Communications on Tuesday.

African bush elephants
San Diego Zoo, October. Flickr

“Because of their huge body size, and their warm and dry habitat, African elephants can avoid over-heating only by losing calories through evaporation of the water they collect in and on their skin,” researchers wrote.

The scientists found that elephant skin channels are not just folds or wrinkles, but actual fractures in the animal’s brittle outermost layer of skin. The skin grows on a tiny lattice framework, they said, causing it to fracture under mechanical stress when the animals move.

Also Read: Wildlife At Risk Due to Mass Tourism: Biologits

African elephants are known to love bathing, spraying and mud-wallowing, and since they have no sweat and sebum glands to keep their skin moist and supple, the tiny crevices trap and hold on to water and mud, helping to regulate body temperature.

They also form a barrier against bugs and solar radiation. (VOA)