Sangita Iyer
Sangita Iyer is a highly experienced multiple award-winning environmental journalist, an Independent documentary film maker, and a biologist. She is the Director and Producer of the upcoming epic documentary Gods in Shackles that reveals the dark side of the southern Indian state of Kerala's glamorous cultural festivals where temple elephants are exploited for profit under the guise of culture and religion. By exposing the abhorrent torture suffered by India's heritage animal, Gods in Shackles offers hope to the thousands of endangered captive and wild Asian elephants in India through heightened awareness.

Gods in Shackles has already won critical acclaim and has been awarded the Hollywood International Independent Documentary Film Festival Award, The IMPACT Docs – Award of Merit, Golden Award at the World Documentary Awards, the Los Angeles CineFest Award, and was nominated for the prestigious International Elephant Film Festival (UN, CITES, Jacksonhole Film Festival)

Sangita co-founded the Bermuda Environmental Alliance, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public on environmental issues, and providing practical solutions that would foster environmental stewardship. Sangita has worked in the media for over a decade, and until September 2008 she was one of the most familiar faces of television news on Bermuda's ABC/CBS affiliate. Given this experience, she effectively harnesses the power of sounds and images in her environmental documentary films.

Sangita was the host, executive director and producer of the Bermuda Environmental Alliance’s six part series, Bermuda – Nature's Jewel, which received the 2012 Bermuda National Trust award for environmental awareness, and is currently being used as an educational aid in Bermuda’s schools. A four-part miniseries was featured on Discovery Channel Canada’s Daily Planet, which draws more than four million viewers.

Sangita has received numerous awards including the "Founder's Award for Leadership, Sustainability, and Personal Development" in May 2013, and the "Award of Excellence" for her Masters' thesis documentary, Connecting the Dots: television news media and climate change, at the International Film Festival for Environment, Health and Culture in Indonesia. In 2008 Sangita was named the "Best Broadcast Journalist" by the popular Bermudian magazine, and she also received the inaugural DeForest Trimingham Award – top environmental awareness award from the Bermuda National Trust for her 13-part documentary series Enviro Shorts. The series, which was commended by the Senate and the House of Assembly, is currently being used as an educational aid in schools.

In September 2012 Sangita was one of the few Canadians selected for The Climate Reality Project training by Al Gore, which further inspired her to write for The Huffington Post. Sangita is a public speaker and has delivered keynote speeches, made presentations in schools, universities, and government departments. Sangita has received numerous scholarships and awards. Sangita holds a Masters in Environmental Education and Communication, a B. Sc. in Biology from the University of Bombay, India, and a post-graduate Diploma in Broadcast Journalism (Dean’s Honorary Role) from Humber College Toronto (Canada). For details on her awards visit

"We stand at a critical moment in Earth's history, a time when humanity must choose its future. As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future at once holds great peril and great promise" (The Earth Charter, 2000).

Entries by Sangita Iyer

Solidarity And Kinship With Nature And Non-Humans

(0) Comments | Posted May 2, 2016 | 3:19 PM

Our society's obsession with economic growth and technology has fuelled impulsive actions and failed to consider the intricate roles of living beings. Production and consumption has taken center stage in human culture, causing depletion of natural resources and decimation of forests, ocean, wetlands and biodiversity.

"Earth has enough...
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Renewed Calls For Independent Health Assessment For Ailing Elephant Lucy

(50) Comments | Posted April 14, 2016 | 1:20 PM

The saga of Lucy the Asian elephant at the Edmonton Valley Zoo is drawing international attention, with almost 50 world renowned celebrities, including Canada's own Hollywood actor William Shatner, and Canadian authors Margaret Atwood, and Michael Ondaatje calling for independent health assessment.

In this video...

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A Story Of Horror Behind Glamorous Cultural Festivals

(7) Comments | Posted April 5, 2016 | 1:40 PM

Death and devastation of the poor and defenseless has become a cultural norm in Kerala. And even as people and elephants are dying in stampedes at an alarming rate, the masses continue to cling on to their misguided myths.

Four elephants and six people have died in almost

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Solidarity For Nosey's Freedom

(55) Comments | Posted March 29, 2016 | 2:16 PM

The saga of Nosey the African elephant has been escalated to The White House, as animal welfare groups renew their calls to confiscate the ailing elephant. This, after the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently renewed, Hugo Libel's license to exhibit the elephant, despite 200 Animal Welfare Act...

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Redefining The Fate Of Kerala's Elephants

(0) Comments | Posted March 23, 2016 | 12:03 PM

Stories of torture, neglect, exploitation, frustration, devastation and untimely deaths of people and elephants coming out of Kerala are disheartening. Between January and mid-March Kerala has witnessed more than 216 stampedes, with three elephants and five people dead, including four mahouts and a lady -- a replica of 2015 and...

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February Has Been Brutal For Elephants And Deadly For People In Kerala

(9) Comments | Posted February 22, 2016 | 3:20 PM

Just imagine walking bare-footed on melted tar roads under a scorching sun and intense heat for one hour, and then forced to run for three hours in shackled legs. You are given no food or water for the duration of the six hours. Well, this is exactly what happened to...

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Elephant Abuse In Kerala Has Finally Gone Criminal

(28) Comments | Posted February 8, 2016 | 4:20 PM

A 20-year-old elephant named Chitillapilly Rajashekaran has been allegedly beaten to death and his body transported to another district in order to cover up the torture and wounds. This young elephant had just emerged from his musth -- an annual cycle when the bulls are in heat.

When they...

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Nosey The Circus Elephant Back In The Lime Light

(18) Comments | Posted February 2, 2016 | 4:59 PM

The saga of Nosey the Circus Elephant is back in the limelight, with dissident voices getting louder. Despite nearly 200 animal welfare violations, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has recently renewed Hugo Liebel's license, so the ailing animal can be exploited for human entertainment, decries People for...

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Heart Breaking Stories Of Temple Elephants Of Kerala

(14) Comments | Posted January 20, 2016 | 2:21 PM

The fate of an elephant named Thiruvambadi Ramabadhran hangs in the balance. His trunk is paralyzed. Unable to eat or drink he stands helplessly, as his handlers are engaged in their own chats.


Ramabadhran's trunk is paralyzed
Photo Credit: Still shot Gods...

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Kerala's Elephants Are Under The Lens Of Supreme Court Of India

(3) Comments | Posted December 30, 2015 | 3:44 PM

Kerala has been blacklisted as one of the two most notorious states in India for elephant abuse. This is one of the key conclusions of an eight-year long rigorous study on the welfare of more than 1400 elephants i.e. 30 per cent of India's captive elephants. It was launched by...

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The Intrinsic Value Of Elephants Far Supersede Their Monetary Value

(8) Comments | Posted October 27, 2015 | 12:04 PM

Elephant owners, including temples in Kerala have come under intense scrutiny after illegal ivory traders confessed that they bought tusks of captive elephants from the state. A popular daily in India reports, one of the traders was arrested in New Delhi, after law enforcement authorities raided his home...

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India Must Stop the Exploitation of Elephants in Cultural and Religious Rituals

(78) Comments | Posted August 11, 2015 | 2:50 PM

The life of Thechikkottukavu Ramachandran -- the tallest elephant in Kerala, a southern state of India, and the second tallest in all of Asia is in danger. His handlers uncovered a plot to murder this majestic animal, after they found pieces of razor blades in his fodder, according to the...

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My Documentary Will Explore the Story of an Elephant Tortured to Blindness

(5) Comments | Posted July 26, 2015 | 7:12 PM

Just before embarking on our final stretch of post-production, I returned to Kerala (a southern state of India), recently and was devastated to see what had happened to an elephant starring in my film, Gods in Shackles. Lakshmi is the beauty I had met in December 2013, a temple elephant...

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Season for Elephant Torture Is Underway in Kerala, India

(2) Comments | Posted April 24, 2015 | 12:58 PM

Something sinister is unfolding, as preparation for this year's Trissur Pooram gets underway. The two main host temples --the Vedakkumnathan Devaswom and Thiruvambaadi Devaswom -- will be parading a baby elephant each from April 24th through the 28th starting 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. During those four days the two...

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There's Progress Amid the Torture and Abuse of Elephants

(7) Comments | Posted April 7, 2015 | 1:23 PM

I wonder what his crime is. A baby elephant is held captive in a tiny enclosure, as he dangles his trunk through the narrow prison bars. The real criminals are humans who killed his mother after she raided a cropland. Subsequently her baby was captured and brought into...

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Silent Suffering in India

(19) Comments | Posted March 28, 2015 | 2:04 PM

A friend recently asked me how can a patriarchal country that abuses its women, and destroys girls even before they are born treat its animals compassionately? The question inspired me to delve into this conundrum and I found some parallel realities between the mistreatment of women and elephants in India.

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When Elephants Are Confined it's No Wonder They Get Aggressive

(14) Comments | Posted February 16, 2015 | 10:28 AM

Recently a temple in Kerala turned into a battleground after two elephants clashed and literally locked heads, causing panic among the worshipers and inflicting serious injuries to each other.

The elephant that provoked the fight, "Gokul" from Guruvayur Temple, was leased out as the main elephant to carry God's idol...

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The Indian Temple That's "Ground Zero" for Elephant Torture

(11) Comments | Posted December 29, 2014 | 5:14 PM

A world renowned Guruvayur temple in the southern state of Kerala (India) that has garnered the United Nations World Heritage Site status is the "Ground Zero" for elephant torture. This prestigious temple, glamorous on the outside, also has a sordid zone where some of the dark torturous practices continue unabated....

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Why I Made a Documentary About Elephant Cruelty in India

(9) Comments | Posted December 10, 2014 | 11:36 AM

The festival season for humans is a season of torture for elephants in Kerala. The cultural celebrations have barely begun in that Southern state of India, and five elephants have already run amok in the past two days.

A handler has been seriously injured and hospitalized, after a temple...

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Hope for Kerala's Captive Elephants

(2) Comments | Posted November 30, 2014 | 10:52 PM

A 72-year-old elephant, the famous Guruvayoor Padhmanabhan, is precariously balancing himself on three legs, as he is forced to do so to commemorate his 60 years of service at the world renowned Guruvayoor temple in Kerala. The image below seems to depict his 60th anniversary of slavery and torture, revealing...

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