Pathanamthitta: According to the Heritage Animal Task Force, a total of 14 people died in Kerala last year due to elephant attacks. Among these, 9 people were mahouts. The committee, which was formed to provide guidelines to avoid such attacks, has not submitted any report.
A majority of the mishaps occurred when elephants who were on "masth" became violent when they were brought to festivals or for doing work.
A rule exists that medical examination should be conducted on elephants before using them for programmes or work. Not following this rule resulted in the mishaps.
While two mahouts each were killed in Alappuzha and Thrissur districts, one mahout each was killed in the districts of Palakkad, Kozhikode, Thiruvananthapuram, Idukki and Ernakulam.
Dr Gopakumar, the eminent elephant specialist died last January when an elephant who was on "musth" attacked him while he was trying to control it at Mallapally in Pathanamthitta.
While the elephant owner himself died in the elephant attack at Kottayam, a driver, a merchant and a retired soldier died due to elephant attack in Thrissur, Palakkad and Alappuzha respectively.
After the death of Dr Gopakumar, the government had appointed a special committee. The government asked the committee to submit guidelines to avoid elephant attacks and related mishaps. However, nothing solid materialised other than a preliminary report. The owners are not even following the old directive to conduct blood test on the elephants before taking them to festivals or work.
The usual procedure is to give a fitness certificate due to pressure from higher- ups.