Ele­phants you ride may be blind, lame & trau­ma­tised

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - TIMES NATION - Anuja.Jaiswal @times­group.com

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

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