Demo at Indian HC for Temple Elephants – Apr 2018

Demo by indian headquaters for temple elephants

On 20 April 2018 we held a demo outside the Indian High Commission in London to protest against the abuse and torture of temple elephants in India. The event attracted public interest and was covered by The Independent in a major exposé on the issue and our campaign; Indian and Keralan media picked it up as well.

British campaigners call on Indian PM Modi to end torture of captive elephants The Independent

Chained, beaten, whipped and exploited like slaves: The hidden horrors meted out to India’s temple elephants The Independent

There was a quick response in two articles in The New Indian Express defending the treatment of the elephants and voicing worries that the protests might affect Kerala’s tourist industry – UK protest against elephant torture may affect tourism prospects in Kerala and Kerala Tourism Department to silence detractors with movies on elephant care and festivals

Two days after our protest, a major Indian tourism portal published a comprehensive defence of the treatment and care of elephants, painting a rosy picture that bore no resemblance to the wretched reality of the elephants’ lives and the suffering they endure. But following the exposé in The Independent, wildlife chiefs in Kerala announced a crackdown on the abusive treatment of captive elephants and issued revised guidelines for their care (also reported here: This Indian State Is Cracking Down On Cruelty To Captive Elephants).

But sadly the response didn’t appear to be anything more than lip service, and there’s no evidence that any improvements were brought in.  To our knowledge, the elephants’ treatment and suffering remained as bad as ever. But our protest succeeded in bringing public and media attention to the plight of India’s temple elephants, arguably the most egregious case of animal torture in the world.

The only thing that will bring about change is if people stop taking elephant rides and stop visiting events that use elephants for entertainment.  A measure of progress was seen in the UK’s Animals (Low-Welfare Activities Abroad) Act 2023, which bans adverts in the UK for brutal and exploitative practices in animal-related tourism across the world, including elephant rides.

Read our letter to Prime Minister Modi

Protest held at the Indian high commission