An Asian elephant known for being the oldest ever in captivity, has died at the age of 88 in the Southern Indian State of Kerala, according to a statement conveyed by officials, Thursday, February 7.
The oldest elephant has been awarded as “Gaja Muthassi” also known as elephant granny, played a significant role during temple rituals and processions for decades. People are saddened by the abrupt news that Dakshayani (a name given to her by the temple leaders) breathed her last on Tuesday after her veterinary surgeon suspected something wrong when she refused to eat.
It all happened at 3 PM when a sudden shiver passed through her tusk which came from the head part. Then after a few minutes of struggling, she gave up and bent forward, thus, unable to move, described by T Rajeev.
Due to complications on her metabolism, Dakshayani’s diet these past three years comprised mostly of carrots and pineapples. Her poor eyesight and old age were also the main reasons why she was not able to move around or even made an appearance in some of the public functions or any temple programs.
The Travanocore Devasworm, a socio-religious trust in India whose members are nominated by both the government and community-owned Dakshayani, indicated her age as 88.
According to Guinness World Records, the oldest elephant in captivity was aged 86, another Asian elephant named Lin Wang which died in 2003 at Taiwan’s Zoo. The data suggest that captive elephants have a life expectancy of 40 plus years, shorter than those living on its natural habitat.
The death of elephant granny made rise to the growing concern of wildlife conservationists such as Dr. PS Easa who criticized the practice of keeping elephants as captives, irrespective of their conditions. He emphatically added that all such animals should be released to their natural home and giving titles to elephants did nothing to save them.
Wildlife experts said that some 15,000 Asian elephants or one out of three live in captivity worldwide, often in terrible situations. So far, India has 2,454 elephants as captives, based on a survey released last month. However former Travanocore Board President, Mr. Prayar Goplakrishnan defended the decision to keep Dakshayani in captivity. He reiterated that they could not afford to lose her but instead gave her enough space to roam around freely.