Image; Cooling down: Water being poured over a tusker in a pre-musth state after being tranquillized in Kollam. —
The recent spurt in captive elephant violence is being attributed to climatic changes. The change in climate brought about by the off-season rain has advanced the musth period in many elephants. (Musth is characterized by a thick, tar-like secretion from the temple area of the face. Scientific investigation of musth is greatly hindered by the fact that, once under the influence of musth, even the most otherwise placid of elephants may actively try to kill any and all humans.) Musth is an indication of robustness in elephants. Musth occurs only in healthy elephants between the age of 16 to 60 as a three-month annual cycle. The tendency to attack during musth was somewhat constant over the years. The off-season rain this year has had a devastating effect on captive tuskers. The heat and humidity caused by the intermittent rain have advanced the musth period.