Through two different cases, Rajasthan has proven that cruelty against elephants or wildlife will no longer be tolerated.
The Hon’ble Chief Judicial Magistrate, Ajmer, on May 28, 2018, directed the Chief Wildlife Warden of Rajasthan to take custody of a young elephant.
Suman, a 10-year-old elephant, was being kept illegally by Rajendra Kumar Sharma in Ajmer. The incident was brought to the notice of the Forest Department officials by Humane Society International/India (HSI/India) and People for Animals (PFA)
The Magistrate ordered that Suman be shifted to a state-run facility as per the Central Zoo Authority Guidelines.
Further, a case of hunting and other offenses under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, was filed against Rajendra Kumar Sharma.
Gauri Maulekhi, Government Liaison Officer to HSI/India and Trustee, PFA, said, “It is an extremely positive move by the Hon’ble Court and the Rajasthan Forest Department. Elephants are a protected species, and it is only right that the state is responsible for their well-being and safety.”
Maulekhi added, “These elephants have been illegally brought into the state, and the almost in every case, the person who possesses these animals has no ownership certificate. These animals are tortured, beaten and broken so that they can be made to work. This is abuse in its truest form and these gentle beings have no protection against their abusers. We are hopeful that this order will set a precedence and have a positive impact on the lives of these elephants, who have borne only horrible treatment at the hands of humans.”
Elephants are often captured as babies and have to undergo a ruthless training programme called ‘the crush’ whereby they are beaten, poked and starved into submission by their handlers. This is just the beginning of the pain that these elephants are put through. The abuse continues till well into their old age, or till they can no longer bear the pain.
The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has conducted multiple investigations disclosing the conditions under which these elephants labor. They suffer from the blows of the ankush or bullhook (which is prohibited), insufficient diet and inadequate medical care.
Due to lack of natural mental stimulation, the animals display stereotypical behaviour that entails repetitive movements for long durations of time like swaying from side to side or back and forth.
Under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, HSI/India filed a complaint against elephants owners, using the creatures for joyrides in Amer Fort, Jaipur. There are approximately 103 elephants at the Fort, carrying tourists up and down a steep slope. They are housed in Haathi Gaon, a concrete housing structure around 4 kilometres away.
AWBI had conducted a health inspection of these elephants, uncovering the cruelties meted out to them and their deplorable health conditions. The report showed that many of these elephants used for foreign tourists suffer from tuberculosis (TB).
Additionally, most of the 103 elephants have open wounds, scars, and are chained when not working. The foreign tourists who frequent the elephant rides are often unaware of the cruelty.
Following the complaint by HSI/India, the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Amer, directed the police department to investigate the matter on June 1, 2018. If the investigation finds the complaint valid, the police will be required to file an FIR and submit the investigation report to the court.
In response, Maulekhi concluded, “We are happy with the order of the court. We are confident that our concerns will be proven in the police department’s investigation. This is a landmark order, and we believe it is the beginning of the end of the torture that these elephants have suffered for so long.”
Featured image for representation only. Source: PxHere
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)
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