The most misleading mailing ever?

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 1999:

MUDUMALAI, Tamil Nadu;
NEW DELHI––”The Story of Loki,” the
Performing Animal Welfare Society and India
Project for Animals and Nature boldly headlined
in a joint special report mailed in May
with an appeal to donors, is “the worst case of
animal abuse ever documented.”
And, PAWS and IPAN intimated,
the plight of the elephant Loki was largely the
fault of Maneka Gandhi, the Indian minister of
state for social welfare and empowerment since
April 1998, but best known as founder of
People For Animals, India’s most prominent
animal rights group.
According to the PAWS/IPAN mailing,
Maneka “published a report about Loki
which is full of incorrect information,” allegedly
covering up the purported “worst case of animal
abuse ever documented,” thwarting IPAN
founder Deanna Krantz and PAWS representative
Ed Stewart in their efforts to obtain custody
of both Loki and an orphaned elephant calf.


PAWS and IPAN described Loki as
“the messenger to our world about the plight of
India’s elephants…shot with a tranquilizer gun,
severely gored by five trained elephants,
drugged, beaten, and dragged in chains,” and
later “incarcerated for over six months in a
small kraal in which he could neither walk nor
lie down.”
Having followed the case since
February 23, 1999 via Indian news media,
ANIMAL PEOPLE recognized major omissions
in the PAWS/IPAN story––and perhaps
some major embellishments, too. We asked
Maneka immediately for her side of it.
“I have been actively on the Loki
case for the last so many months,” Maneka
promptly responded. “I not only sent people
down to check on the elephant, I have also had
videotapes and photographs taken of the elephant
and sent to PETA. I have even gone to
the extent of asking the local Minister to give
the elephant to Deanna Krantz, only to be told
that the lady has left India. I am faxing you all
the material on the subject,” and she
did––reports, letters, memos, photos.
The record verifies that between
February 21 and May 26, eight people from
five institutions probed the PAWS/IPAN allegations
about the Loki case, which though
originating with Krantz were apparently first
brought to Maneka’s attention by one Michael
Tobias of PETA.
When one source after another rejected
Krantz’s central allegations, Maneka sought
further opinions. Maneka had previous reason
to be skeptical of the routine elephant handling
regimen at the Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary,
where Loki has lived since July 15, 1998. But
Maneka’s doubts were not reinforced until
April 29, 1999, when she received an April 16
letter from PAWS founder Pat Derby. Derby
summarized the report by Ed Stewart which,
reciting the Krantz claims, made up much of
the PAWS/ IPAN mailing. Stewart had visited
Mudumalai at Krantz’s invitation. The Derby
letter was also part of the PAWS/IPAN mailing.
Taking Stewart’s perspective at face
value, Maneka on April 30 asked Tamil Nadu
state forest minister Thiru P. Palaniswamy to
“give this elephant temporarily to Deanna
Krantz till he recovers his physique and spirit,”

intending that he should “be returned to the
wild when well.”
But Krantz was apparently already
gone, the PAWS/IPAN mailing might already
have been in preparation, and Palaniswamy’s
inquiry brought yet another rebuttal of
Krantz’s claims.
“I assure you Loki is alive, well,
and as reasonably happy as he can be in the
circumstances,” Maneka concluded in her
June fax to ANIMAL PEOPLE. “If this were
not true a lot of people would have lost their
jobs by now.”

Tuskless killer
Loki, also known in India as
Murthy, is a tuskless male rogue elephant,
estimated to be 35-40 years old.
According to Mudumalai warden A.
Udhayan, in a comprehensive written account,
Loki/Murthy “killed over six persons in the
Tamil Nadu forests alone in the past few years,
and has been reported to have killed around
eight persons in the forests of Kerala.”
South China Morning Post N e w
Delhi correspondent Marion Lloyd reported on
April 6 that Loki/Murthy’s Tamil Nadu history
actually included “trampling to death at least
three dozen farmers.”
Kerala officials eventually ordered
that Loki/Murthy should be shot. He was shot
several times in the legs, not the head or body,
by wardens who hoped to capture rather than
kill him. But Loki/Murthy escaped to fatally
trample at least one more person in a dawn
rampage during June 1998.
Udhayan’s staff finally captured
Loki/Murthy on July 12, 1988, using a tranquilizer
dart. A familiar technology in the
U.S., tranquilizer darts are just coming into
use in India. Firing a tranqulizer dart against
Loki/Murthy required shooting from dangerously
close range, to be sure of piercing his
hide, with no certainty that the dose would be
sufficient and would work fast enough to
enable the darter to get away alive.
But all went well. Five Forest
Department elephants marched Loki/Murthy to
Mudumalai, reportedly taking three days to
get there in order to avoid overtaxing his
injured legs. PAWS and IPAN alleged they
took eight days, an even more leisurely pace,
and that a truck was also used. Either way, it
wasn’t an easy journey. Even remote Indian
roads are often crowded. Keeping Loki/
Murthy from escaping––and especially getting
him past villages and through traffic––required
keeping him closely surrounded by the other
elephants and/or the truck. Jostling against the
other elephants, he was gored and dragged to
some extent. No one denies it. The alternative
might have been more homicide.
At Mudumalai, Udhayan put Loki/
Murthy in care of honorary wildlife warden V.
Krishnamurthy, DVM, a retired Forest
Department veterinary officer of 40 years
experience. Two handlers were assigned to
train Loki/Murthy, who was semi-immobilized
in close confinement until his wounds
healed and he became used to captivity.
That Loki/Murthy was in effect a
serial killer sentenced to life at hard labor was
not stated in the PAWS/IPAN special report.
In fact, PAWS and IPAN never explicitly
mentioned that Loki/Murthy had killed anyone.
But they backed their claim that he was
victim of “the worst case of animal abuse ever
documented” with a photo captioned, “Puss
and blood drain from Loki’s legs.”
The photo actually appeared to show
a salve of some sort which had been put on the
nearly healed bullet wounds. Loki/Murthy had
been shot repeatedly. The wounds, untreated
until his capture, were predictably infected.
The most shocking of three interior
photos further illustrating the PAWS/IPAN
report showed two different elephants––a
young female who was “either shot or electrocuted
for crop-raiding” in Karnataka state, and
her orphaned calf, according to the captions.
Killing elephants for crop-raiding is
unusual in India, not only because it is illegal
but also because elephants derive high moral
status from Ganesh, the elephant-headed god,
who is among the most popular members of
the Hindu pantheon. Yet such incidents do
occasionally happen.
The dead elephant looked too small
to be the mother of the calf. The calf was tied
between two trees at a facility said to be the
Bandipur Elephant Camp, enduring the brutal
breaking to obedience practiced by traditional
mahouts for thousands of years. The procedure
closely resembles the cowboy style of
breaking mustangs that was standard after U.S.
Bureau of Land Management wild horse
roundups, until the recent advent of “gentling”
and “horse-whispering”––except that elephants,
being much bigger and stronger, typically
withstand much more abuse.

Maneka on elephants
Maneka Gandhi has vigorously
denounced violent elephant-handling for more
than 20 years––including in two terms as minister
of state for environment and forests,
when the Forest Department was under her
supervision and her clashes with senior elephant
managers made national headlines.
Maneka’s efforts for elephants have
been supported by her lifelong friend Diana
Ratnagar, chair of Beauty Without Cruelty
India. An article entitled “A performing circus
within a sanctuary!” by BWC-India investigator
Meenal Kaushik, published in the spring
1998 edition of the BWC-India magazine
Compassionate Friend, exposed how
Mudumalai staff retrained 21 of the 28 nominally
retired logging elephants in their care to
stage money-making weekend elephant shows.
Maneka was appointed to her present
post just about then, as a key member of the
ruling coalition assembled by then newlyelected
Hindu nationalist government. By late
summer 1998, when Maneka was given
expanded responsibility for ensuring animal
welfare, the elephant shows stopped.
Despite the agreement of all investigators
that the Mudumalai staff has treated
Loki/Murthy as well as anyone anywhere
treats killer elephants, Maneka is by no means
uncritical of them. Yet, as Maneka reminded
PETA in an April 23 e-mail, “What the animal
community must take into account is that if we
all jump on the Forest Department over this
case, it will mean that no officials in the future
will bother to save a single elephant. They
will simply kill them as soon as they receive
reports of crop-raiding, to save themselves the
bother of dealing with complaints about cruelty.
In the longterm interest of the elephants,”
Maneka continued, “we must treat this capture––not
the cruelty, but the capture––as an
occasion for praise rather than censure.”
The PAWS/IPAN mailing somewhat
altered that quote, deleting Maneka’s exclusion
of praise for cruelty.
Concluded Maneka, “Finally, I
would like to warn against international organizations
like IPAN who, though they may
mean well, have not been able to help animals
here mainly because of their operating style. It
was the officials of the sanctuary where the
elephant was taken who approached IPAN in
the first place for help in his treatment,”
Maneka wrote, and the files she faxed to ANIMAL
PEOPLE confirmed it. “That this assistance
was refused later is, I suspect from previous
experience, largely due to IPAN’s
inability to work with local people toward the
common goal of animal welfare, as well as its
eagerness to turn every animal tragedy into a
fundraising and self-promotional opportunity.
We do not market misery in India, and do not
appreciate those who would do so.”
The PAWS/IPAN mailing quoted
that too, but deleted the parts about the
Mudumali staff approaching Krantz and then
later turning her away.
The PAWS/IPAN version is that
Krantz “was allowed to provide proper food,
medicines, and veterinary care…She even flew
in a veterinary specialist from the U.S. to
help,” possibly meaning her husband,
Humane Society of the U.S. vice president
Michael Fox, DVM, who according to the
March 16, 1999 edition of The Times of India
joined her in protests at Mudumalai, demanding
custody of Loki/Murthy.
Wrote M. Kumaralelu, environmental
educator for the C.P. Ramaswami Alyar
Foundation, who was among those who investigated
for Maneka, “Krantz was allowed to
treat and feed the animal. In due course she
was found to be unsatisfactory and had misused
the privilege given to her. She wanted to
take the animal” to her own private sanctuary.
“Since this was against the Wildlife Protection
Act,” without ministerial authorization, “the
authorities prevented her. She started fighting
and creating trouble for the forest officials.”
Added Nanditha C. Krishna, honorary
director of the C.P. Ramaswami Alyar
Foundation, “I believe Deanna Kranz has been
agitating to have the elephant handed over to
her since she is raising funds abroad in the
name of the elephant.”
Krishna is wife of Blue Cross of
India secretary S. Chinny Krishna. Both are
well-known to ANIMAL PEOPLE, and are
highly regarded for their integrity and lifetimes
of humane service.

Agendas and motives
Krantz may still be smarting over the
outcome of her 1996 attempted takeover of the
Nilgiris Animal Welfare Society, in southern
Tamil Nadu. Warmly welcomed by the Indian
humane community, including Maneka,
Krantz issued glowing reports about her work,
and was profiled–– from afar––by at least two
U.S. animal protection publications. When
Krantz ran into conflict with locals, including
a March 1997 physical altercation with a
female neighbor, she claimed it was over her
opposition to cruelty. When major Indian
humane societies investigated, Compassion
Unlimited Plus Action of Bangalore took her
side, but others, initially supportive, became
dubious. Maneka visited NAWS herself,
becoming among the most skeptical of all.
Eventually ousted from NAWS by
legal action, Krantz went on to start her own
sanctuary in the same vicinity.
How and why PAWS got involved
was unclear. A June 13 inquiry to Pat Derby
by ANIMAL PEOPLE subscriber and longtime
PAWS donor Ronaele Findley, of
Boulder Creek, California, still hadn’t been
answered as of July 6. PAWS did, however,
receive copies of the e-mails and videotapes
that Maneka sent to PETA cofounder Ingrid
Newkirk, in expectation that they would
establish that Maneka and staff were monitoring
the treatment of Loki/Murthy and responding
as the evidence showed appropriate.
On June 8, ANIMAL PEOPLE
asked Newkirk via both fax and e-mail what
information she had pertaining to Loki/
Murthy, from what source, when she first
contacted Maneka via Michael Tobias;
whether she had reason to believe Maneka had
prior awareness of the case; what she personally
thought of the situation after viewing the
video Maneka sent, and reviewing the other
documentation Maneka provided; whether she
ever expressed her perspective directly to
Maneka (we have no record that she ever
responded to Maneka in any manner); and
what she thought of the PAWS/IPAN mailing.
Newkirk never answered.

Print Friendly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *