By Joanna Sugden
Elephants will no longer be a familiar sight on the streets of Mumbai. In a bid to protect the animal from the dangers of the urban jungle, Maharashtra’s Forest Department recently imposed a ban on elephants entering India’s commercial capital, which will be implemented later this month.
Suresh Thorat, the head of the Maharashtra Forest Department’s western branch, who took the decision, told India Real Time why elephants and India’s most populous city had to go their separate ways.
The Wall Street Journal: You came to office as the additional principal chief conservator of forest two months ago. You’ve managed to introduce a ban that’s been mooted for two to three years in Mumbai. Why did you want to act so quickly on this issue?
Suresh Thorat: I have banned the entry of elephants from Mumbai and suburbs because elephants were being brought to Mumbai and its suburbs for begging, festivals, for films and marriages. But there is no place for them to stand and it’s not their natural habitat. Bombay [Mumbai\ is so congested and crowded; if anything goes wrong with the elephants in the city, the blame will come to the ministry.
There were also requests from animal lovers and conservationists for this ban.
WSJ: How many elephants are there in Mumbai and what’s the harm in having them in the city?
Mr. Thorat: They keep coming in different numbers, but at any one time, there are two or three.
Sometimes vehicles are hitting them. It’s a huge animal and there is a possibility of attack.
WSJ: How will a ban be enforced?
Mr. Thorat: Elephant owners needed a certificate to come into the city. More....