Elephant crushes handler to death after he beats the animal during bath and accidentally slips

The mahout can be seen instructing his elephant to sit on the floor while he giving a bath to the massive creature


                            Elephant crushes handler to death after he beats the animal during bath and accidentally slips

WARNING: DISTRESSING CONTENT

The shocking moment the mahout (handler) of an elephant was accidentally crushed under the massive animal's body after he hit it so hard that he lost his balance and fell underneath it was caught on camera in the state of Kerala, India.

Arun Panikkar, the main mahout of the elephant named Bharath Viswanathan, died tragically while he was giving the elephant a bath at Karappuzha in Kottayam district. According to CCTV footage of the incident, the mahout can be seen instructing his elephant to sit on the floor while he giving a bath to the massive creature.

As the large tusker starts sitting much to his apparent discomfort, Panikkar's legs slip on the slick ground and he falls beneath the elephant. The animal, who clearly doesn't realize what happened, then proceeds to sit on his handler, Daily Mail reported.

Local Indian newspaper Deccan Herald reported that many locals in the area said that the entire bulk of the elephant landed on his mahout, especially the man's head. Panikkar's assistant was nearby when the incident took place and could be seen rushing to the spot to try and get the elephant off him. Other handlers reportedly rushed the main mahout to a local hospital where doctors, unfortunately, pronounced him dead.

The main cause of death was confirmed as a serious head injury. Panikkar, who hailed from Alappuzha district, was the chief mahout of the elephant which is owned by a businessman based in Kottayam. Meanwhile, there have already been multiple allegations that the 33-year-old male elephant was in musth and handlers were inflicting wounds on the animal to suppress this condition.

An elephant in musth (Source: iStock by Getty Images)
An elephant in musth (Source: iStock by Getty Images)

Musth is a periodically occurring condition in which bull elephants become highly aggressive. It also comes with a massive spike in reproductive hormones which, in the wild, results in the need to fight other males for the right to mate with female elephants.

VK Venkitachanlam, an elephant welfare activist, told Herald that the animal was taken to a temple festival in the city of Thrissur just a couple of days before the incident. The bull elephant had allegedly been showing signs of being in musth even then but the mahouts allegedly suppressed this natural process by inflicting it with wounds.

(Source: iStock by Getty Images)
(Source: iStock by Getty Images)

 

The activist also said that the CCTV footage of the death shows Panikkar beating the elephant because it was showing some resistance in obeying instructions to sit down.  

In 2003, in the city of Thrissur, Kerala, there had been a similar incident of a mahout being crushed to death by an elephant. A staggering amount of festivals take place in the temples of Kerala during the months of March and April. This means that elephants are paraded around the temples while ignoring many restrictions in spite of many incidents of the animals running loose and trampling people.