By Rachna Singh
JAIPUR: The sight of a chained jumbo under a tin roof or one parading up the steep slopes of Amber Fort is a painful thing for any animal lover. If the animal activists have their way, an elephant ride to the Amber Fort soon may be a thing of past. The People for Ethical Treatment of Animals is now calling on the state government to stop the use of elephants for any purpose, including tourism and ceremonies.
Recently, an extensive inspection of elephants in Jaipur was authorized by Animal Welfare Board of India, a statutory body operating under the ministry of environment & forests and established under Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960. During the inspection at Amber, it was found that captive elephants suffered rampant and widespread abuse, a violation of animal protection laws. The Hathi Gaon, meant to be a home for the jumbos, is not recognized by the Central Zoo Authority as a "captive animal facility." The rooms for all 51 elephants fell well short of the 1.2 acres of land per elephant as mandated by the CZA's guidelines.
"PETA has written to the Rajasthan government to stop the use of elephants for any purpose, including tourism and ceremonies, and instead set up an elephant sanctuary with a no-breeding policy under the chain-free protected system of management for rescued elephants," said Dr Manilal Valliyate from PETA.
The findings also revealed that despite 2008 high court ban on the use of 'Ankush' (hook-like weapons with a sharp metal spike on the end) this was still being used on the elephants while on ride to Amber Fort.
The PETA team also found elephants chained with painful spikes; blind, sick and injured elephants forced to work; and elephants with mutilated tusks and ears.
The PETA India request has been forwarded to secretary, forests for further action. And PETA has also urged the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) to look into the legality of Hathi Gaon, where the elephants are housed, and asked tourists to stop patronizing elephant rides.
The inspection team included experienced veterinarians and honorary animal welfare officers from Centre for Studies on Elephants at the College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences in Kerala, People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India, Animal Rahat and Wildlife SOS.
"It is illegal to use elephants meant for the wild for tourism under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972. Government should look for a situation, either to issue licenses to the rest of them or they should be sent to the rescue centre," said Dr Mahendra Singh Kachhawa, standing counsel, Animal Welfare Board of India.