Free elephants from captivity, they are not for joyrides: Activists
By IANS | Published: August 11, 2021 11:33 PM2021-08-11T23:33:02+5:302021-08-11T23:45:08+5:30
New Delhi, Aug 11 Should the majestic elephants India's heritage animal be kept in captivity or ...
New Delhi, Aug 11 Should the majestic elephants India's heritage animal be kept in captivity or let free in the wild? Do elephants continue to be used for joyrides?
These are the questions dominating the discussions on the eve of World Elephant Day on Friday.
Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav will release the all-India synchronised methodology for elephant and tiger population estimation on the occasion of World Elephant Day on Friday.
Yadav will also deliver a keynote address at the event that will also be attended by Minister of State Ashwini Kumar Choubey, a release issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change said on Thursday.
The results of the last elephant census was declared in 2017 which showed that the number of wild elephants in India was barely 27,312. Karnataka with 6,049 elephants led the states, followed by Assam (5,719), Kerala (3,054) and Tamil Nadu (2,761).
It also mentioned that there were approximately 3,000 to 4,000 elephants in captivity. These include those in circus, zoo and those used for joyrides in forests, forts and even by some resorts.
The Project Elephant under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has held a workshop that revisited the guidelines for keeping elephants in captivity. A number of NGOs participated in the workshop and the general mood was to ensure that there are no more elephants in captivity.
The old guidelines had several gaps... There were certain issues that were either inadequately addressed or not addressed at all.
"For instance, scores of elephants lose their lives during transportation. Then there are issues related to lack of medical care," Kartik Satyanarayan from the NGO, Wildlife SOS, told .
Another NGO, World Animal Protection in India (WAPI), has requested the Rajasthan government to retire all captive elephants currently used for rides at the Amer fort.
"These elephants suffer from a host of maladies and illnesses caused due to their incarceration in captivity in a state that is not a natural elephant range state," WAPI said.
Therefore, to monitor the condition of the elephants at the Amer fort in Jaipur in March 2020, in compliance with the directions of the Supreme Court, a team of veterinary doctors was constituted by the MoEF&CC to look into the conditions of captive elephants.
In July 2020, the team, along with the state Forest Department, visited the elephants in Haathi Gaon and Amer Fort where 98 captive elephants were inspected. The team had recommended that elephant rides at Amer Fort be withdrawn in a phased manner. It was decided then to retire 20 sick elephants.
"The owners of the elephants also may be rehabilitated suitably in such situations. They can switch over to other modes of transportation like electric or battery-operated vehicles for similar rides. We welcome the decision to retire 20 animals, but wish that all elephants are freed from there.
"WAPI is prepared to facilitate the retirement of captive elephants at Amer Fort to the elephant rehabilitation centres. This will enable the national heritage animal to live in peace after a lifetime of abuse and the current mahouts might obtain alternative livelihoods," WAPI country director Gajender K. Sharma told over phone from Jaipur, where he is on a visit.
"After the Covid-19 pandemic, our motto is an end to elephant rides and a shift to more wildlife-friendly venues in the future," Sharma said.
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