The Elephants’ History
Sandhya, Indu and Jayanthi have thrived since they have come here to our facility. But what were their lives like before? Here is their story:
How they came to be owned by the Srimatam and housed at the Kanchi Kamakshi Amman Temple, Kanchipuram.
Elephant Sandhya, alias Kamakshi, was the oldest elephant to come to the Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam Srimatam in Kanchipuram. As the story goes, when the Kamakshi Amman temple’s elephant, named Kamakshi, outgrew the size of the doorway, she was gifted to a temple in Sathara, Maharastra, where she died soon after arrival. So in 1981, at the age of seven and a half years, Srimatam bought elephant Sandhya from the Hunsur Forest Division of Karnataka for a sum of Rs. 20,000. Young Sandhya, on arrival, was renamed Kamakshi. She is now 43 years old.
Elephant Indu was sold in 1987 by the Kerala Forest Department to the Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam Srimatam at the request of the Jagadguru. She was 6 years old when Srimatam bought her for pooja purposes at the concessional rate of Rs. 20,000 from the Waynad Forest Division, Kerala. Her present age is 34 years.
Elephant calf Jayanthi was gifted to the Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam Srimatam in 2001 by the Kaziranga National Park, under the Forest Department of Assam. She was 3 years and 10 months at the time. Her current age is 19 years. Her Ownership Certificate states the ‘Purpose’ as ‘Gifts for the Srimatam Samasthanam (Tamil Nadu) by the Government of Assam’.
Freedom for the elephants
In July 2015, an inspection team was deputed by the Animal Welfare Board of India to assess the welfare status of the elephants belonging to the Srimatam but housed at the Kamakshi Amman temple. Based on their recommendations the management of the Srimatam agreed that the elephants needed specialized medical attention and better care in natural surroundings, which they were unable to provide. On September 10th, 2015, the Pontiff Sri Jayendra Saraswathi Sankaracharya Swamigal met with Dr. Supraja Dharini regarding the welfare of the elephants. The Pontiff and the management unanimously decided to retire all 3 elephants as one group, as they were like family and depended on each other for social contact.
After receiving a letter of request from the Srimatam to hand over the elephants to the Elephant Care Facility-TREE Foundation and WRRC (Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre) Initiative, the Chief Wildlife Warden, Tamil Nadu, granted permission to allow the three elephants to live in natural surroundings at Kurumbaram Village, Marakanam Taluk, Villupuram, Tamil Nadu.