SALEM: After over a month of pain and illness and a lifetime of deformity, euthanasia will now come to the aid of Rajeswari — Arulmigu Sugavaneswarar Temple’s resident elephant. The Madras High Court, hearing a petition by an animal lover on Monday, granted permission for mercy killing of the jumbo, after it developed bed sores all over its body during the course of the illness that had rendered her immobile.
All was relatively well for Rajeswari till the June of 2016, when her right leg swelled up and caused her considerable pain. On October 15, 2016, Rajeswari was relocated to a garden owned by the Sugavaneswarar Temple in Alagapuram Pudur after a long drawn legal process.

In March this year, her right leg started to trouble her again. It stopped functioning and couldn’t hold up her weight, rendering her immobile. Officials of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments department arranged for round-the-clock care for her. While veterinarians monitored her health, experts from Coimbatore and Chennai too were brought in when she did not show signs of improvement. When she started developing bed sore after lying on one side for long, officials tried to move her from time to time. During one such attempt, Rajeswari fell and was injured further.

Soon, the sores spread to all of her body and showed signs of decay. Reports from her mahout were quite depressing. “She had to be turned once every three days. While they (officials) tried to turn her a few weeks ago, she fell and sustained injuries on her right leg. Now, one of her eyes has been damaged by insects. They have stopped providing treatment to her legs and are only attending to the bed sore on her body. They have only applied turmeric for the infection and administered glucose,” claimed Baskaran.Dr N S Manoharan, forest veterinary surgeon, Coimbatore Division, had a different opinion on Rajeswari’s ill health. “The common life span of a captive elephant is 40 years. Rajeswari is now 42 years old. The main reason for her suffering is the deformity of her leg and old age,” he said.

It was against this backdrop that Chennai-based animal rights activist Muralidharan brought her troubles to the notice of the Madras High Court and sought permission to euthanise her. In his petition, Muralidharan said that several veterinarians had tried to treat her and in the process had used ‘absurd methods’ of trying to make her stand by lifting her with an earthmover, which resulted in the elephant being dropped from the earthmover breaking her tusk and limb.