The tale of “Sunder” …. an abused elephant!!


~~April 13, 2014~~


Thanks to all of YOUR help, court passes landmark decision to free Sunder from 6 long years of being chained and beaten.


Sunder is 14 years old, a young juvenile boy, and has spent the past six years chained inside a dismal shed at a temple in Kolhapur. His previous mahout (handler) grossly abused him, and Sunder bears the scars to prove it. He now has a new mahout, with whom the Animal Rahat vets have made it a top priority to try to develop a good rapport, but the mahout, believe it or not, is afraid of Sunder and has never taken him off the chains, not even for a walk.

The temple authorities resisted giving the Rahat team access to Sunder, but they were able to succeed through a combination of Dr. Sudheesh’s impressive military credentials and because one of Animal Rahat’s ambulance drivers is related to a priest in the temple.

It’s all about who you know!

After examining Sunder, Rahat’s vets determined that he was anemic and dehydrated and has proptosis (bulging) of one of his eyes, probably because of head trauma, most likely from being severely beaten for being mischievous as a youngster.

Thanks to the support of caring people like you, there is hope for the first time ever for Sunder, and time is of the essence.

If Animal Rahat does not get him proper care now, he will suffer unimaginably when he goes into musth (breeding rage). Vets have embarked on a solid plan to improve Sunder’s living conditions — the immediate priorities are to get him out of his dark and damp enclosure, establish a decent watering system, get the mahout to walk him daily, and improve the amount and quality of his food.

What Animal Rahat will ultimately try to do is get him away from there, but that mountain is a high one to climb.



MUMBAI: On Monday, April 2014, during a Bombay high court hearing, Peta’s lawyers Shiraz Rustomjee and Rohan Rajadhyaksha presented finding by elephant experts Dr. EK Easwaran, assistant director, department of animal husbandry, Kerala and Dr. Yaduraj Khadpekar, senior veterinary officer, Wildlife SOS-India who visited 14-year-old elephant Sunder on February 19 and argued that Sunder is being kept so harshly chained that he’s unable to lie down.

The findings showed that Sunder is displaying signs of severe frustration and mental distress through constant head wobbling, swaying and other abnormal repetitive movements. As per the report and evidence submitted to the court, Sunder was displaying aggressive behavior only towards his own mahout, Hyder, and no aggression towards other people during the inspection, indicating that Sunder feels threatened by his own mahout.

Sunder is at the center of a case in which PETA is calling for the animal’s release to a sanctuary. 


Member of legislative assembly Vinay Kore donated Sunder to Jyotiba temple in 2007, and the elephant has been kept chained since then.

In December 2013, PETA obtained video footage showing that Sunder’s mahout violently beat him with a pole near a poultry shed where he had been moved at the behest of Kore.

That same month, the high court of Bombay ordered Sunder’s transfer to a sanctuary, but he is yet to be released by principal chief conservator of forests Sarjan Bhagat. Kore and the Kolhapur division of the forest department claimed this is because Sunder is in musth (a period of heightened sexual urge, which can make captive bull elephants aggressive from frustration) and cannot be transported. 

However, the recent experts’ report clarified that Sunder is not showing signs of normal musth condition, but ‘moda’ (adolescent) musth, and pointed out that Sunder can be transported to a sanctuary and that he should be, to avoid further damage to his mental status. The report also confirmed that Sunder’s current housing facilities are grim and do not even meet the minimum basic standards. 


Sunder is denied everything that is natural and important to him and lives in fear.


Principal Chief Conservator of Forests SWH Naqvi has still not transferred Sunder, a 14-year-old elephant who had been chained for years at the Jyotiba Temple in the Kolhapur district of Maharashtra, to the sanctuary in Karnataka that has been identified for him by PETA – despite Maharashtra Minister of Forests Dr Patangrao Kadam’s order calling for Sunder’s release. Naqvi has the responsibility to follow the Minister’s order but seems to lack the will to do so. It is thought that Sunder has been hidden by temple authorities in a dark, heavily guarded poultry shed behind a dairy facility.

Sunder has been denied freedom of movement, and on the rare occasions when he was taken for a short walk at the temple, he was kept in spiked chains. Because of the abusive treatment at the hands of his mahout, Sunder was found by PETA with wounds all over his body and a damaged eye.

Elephants are highly intelligent and social animals. In nature, they spend around 18 hours a day walking, feeding, bathing in watering holes and interacting with other elephants, and females live in close-knit family groups for life.

Elephants held in captivity are separated from their families as babies and are sentenced to a lifetime of confinement, boredom, loneliness and abuse.

Temple elephant Sunder chained up in his shed at Jyotiba temple in Kolhapur, Maharashtra, India.  Scars can be seen on the animal's legs, caused by the chains. Abuse of the elephant prompted Sir Paul McCartney to write to the Indian government demanding the animal be set free.

Constantly kept in chains, many exhibit signs of mental illness, including repetitive swaying, rocking and head-bobbing. The chains also cause painful wounds and pressure sores, which often become infected. The lack of exercise and the years spent standing on hard concrete amid their own waste lead to painful and crippling foot ailments and arthritis. The severe confinement has led Sunder to act out in frustration, creating a risk for temple authorities and visitors.

Please help PETA in urging authorities to immediately transfer Sunder to the sanctuary in Karnataka that has been identified for him by PETA.

~~Written by PETA~~

Renowned Bollywood actor Arjun Rampal has donated two billboards to PETA India calling for the release of an abused 14-year-old elephant named Sunder. PETA India is seeking Sunder’s rescue via a case in the High Court of Bombay.

One of the billboards has been placed in Nagpur, the site of the office of Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Sarjan Bhagat, and the other in Kolhapur, where Member of the Legislative Assembly Vinay Kore is based.


Kore donated Sunder to the Jyotiba temple in 2007, and the elephant has been kept chained and inside dark sheds for most of that time. In December 2013, PETA obtained video footage showing that Sunder’s mahout violently beat him with a pole near a poultry shed where he had been moved at the behest of Kore.

 That same month, the High Court of Bombay ordered Sunder’s transfer to a sanctuary, but he has yet to be released by Bhagat. The actor has also offered to donate a life-size statue of an elephant to the Jyotiba temple in exchange for transferring Sunder to a sanctuary as identified by PETA. He added that the statue would allow devotees to “pay tribute to Lord Ganesha and honor all elephants, including Sunder“.


Joining Rampal in his call for Sunder’s release have been Amitabh BachchanMadhuri DixitR MadhavanRaveena Tandon and many other top celebrities as well as more than one lakh people, who have signed PETA India’s online petition.

You can help #Free Sunder. Take action today.



~~Bombay High Court orders Sunder’s release~~


~~Published on Apr 7, 2014~~

The Bombay High Court has ordered the release of Sunder the elephant into a sanctuary. 14-year-old Sunder who has been in captivity and was kept chained inside a dark shed at a Temple in the Kolhapur district of Maharashtra for seven years will finally be free from the torture.

The Bombay High Court asks authorities to implement a state government order to release Sunder into the wild that was issued in August 2012.

We ALL are connected through NATURE!!


We ALL are ONE!! 


We ALL are connected through HUMANITY!!


28 thoughts on “The tale of “Sunder” …. an abused elephant!!

  1. I will share what I said when I saw this on Barbara’s reblog Horty… we do not deserve the title of Human… Because we are far from Humane! And to give the title of us being no more than an animal, is an insult to the animal kingdom… We are at times pure evil… I am just thankful that for this one elephant his ordeal is over… May he enjoy the freedom of the Sanctuary.. .. There are so many penned up and abused animals around our world… Thank you for highlighting and sharing.. Blessings Sue xxx


  2. My heart breaks for Sunder and all the elephants in this abusive position. Just think for a second what their days and nights are like. Imagine never feeling love only hate. That is Sunder’s reality as well as hundreds if not thousands of other elephants.


    • I can’t fathom the idea of how many other animals are suffering this way …. all due to the human factor. It brakes my heart!!!

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!! Hugs ….


    • I know … but maybe you could sign the petition?

      This is so sad. It’s been ongoing and agencies/organizations have tried. Seems he’s almost ready to go to the Sanctuary!

      SMH … 😦


  3. If Sunder’s new caregiver is afraid of him then get someone else and get the chains off of this poor creature. Good grief… enough is enough!!


  4. I knew the courts orderd his release, but then I thought I read that there was a paperwork nightmare because he may not be legally purchased by whomever, which makes me think that there should be no paperwork nightmare because if he was purchased illegally then he should be confiscated and sent to the sanctuary and the paperwork nightmare can continue without him still being captive. I just don’t want this to fall through the cracks. I also read an ariticle where the word, hopefully, was used as to Sunder being released. There should be no hopefully, there should what date will he be released. I am so passoniate about this – wish I had money to fly to India to assist in getting his release. Please keep posting updates. And, thank you.


    • Thank you for stopping by and your comments. They are really appreciated. I agree with you …. this is a nightmare. I guess countries like India are like that,

      I will keep looking. I’m just going down that list – twitter storm – and clicking away.

      You are most welcome. I thank you for stopping by!!
      Hugs …


    • As of this writing, I don’t have that info. I’m keeping tabs on it.

      Will inform about it as soon as I know …. he’s supposed to have been sent to the sanctuary .. but … who knows about red tape in that country!!

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!! Peace ….


      • It is important that the Court order requiring Sunder’s release to the Sanctuary is implemented forthwith. This order supercedes any “supposed” obstacle standing in the way of his release. There should be no delay whatsoever. Law enforcement officers should assist PETA to carry through with his transfer to the Sanctuary. It is absurd that anything should now stand in the way of his transfer. There are animal experts who can guide the implementation of the court order. There must be no delay. What exactly is the status of this situation?


      • Agree with you!! Thank you for stopping by and commenting. As of now, I don’t know the status.
        Will have to research and find out!! 🙂


      • Dr. Rex: Thanks for your quick reply. Now we need to dig deeper into your reply: …”he’s supposed to have been sent to the sanctuary…but…who knows”…
        Fine, just HOW do we check on that latest news? Somebody must have some updated news! What about PETA’s contacts over there? etc., etc., etc.


  5. Pingback: See Rescued Elephant Sunder in His New Home |

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