Elephants you ride may be blind, lame & traumatised
Agra/Jaipur: One of five elephants that tourists ride in Jaipur is blind. All have injured or weak legs and most are probably suffering from severe psychological problems, traumatised by abuse in captivity. The situation is not much better for rest of India’s 3,500 captive elephants. Now the Supreme Court has sought a study to ascertain magnitude of the problem.
On November 1, the SC directed the Animal Welfare Board of India to conduct a survey across the country about the number of elephants held in captivity. The bench was hearing a petition which has sought implementation of the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals Act, 1960 to protect elephants. According to a recent study by World Animal Protection , most of India’s captive elephants are used to entertain tourists. The report, ‘Taken for a Ride’, points at the 116 elephants used for tourism in Jaipur. The life expectancy of such captive elephants, which is between 70 and 75 years for the species, is down to less than 40 years. India has the largest population of elephants in the wild, an estimated 23,900- 32,000.
One of the most comprehensive studies on captive elephant welfare was conducted in India between 2005 and 2014 by NGO Asian Nature Conservation Foundation and Compassion Unlimited Plus Ac- tion. It looked at 1,545 elephants in temples, private hands, zoos and the forest department in 12 states. Most of them were found chained for 9 and 18 hours a day. All the states reported serious health problems. At Hathigaon near Amer Fort, elephants give rides twice a day to tourists in summer and four times every day in winter. Their mahouts and government officials dismiss WPA report. (With inputs from Ajay
Singh in Jaipur)
All the elephants held in captivity have injured or weak legs