For Immediate Release:
5 January 2021
Hiraj Laljani; [email protected]
Sachin Bangera; [email protected]
Committee Incorporates PETA India’s Recommendations in Its Report
Jaipur – A new inspection report from the committee constituted by the Project Elephant Division of the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change, per a 6 March 2020 order of the Supreme Court of India, incorporates recommendations made by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India and seeks to phase out elephant rides by replacing them with electric or battery-operated vehicles at Amer Fort, citing aging elephants and tourists’ declining preference for elephant rides. The committee’s recommendations include refraining from using elephants with irreparable eye problems for rides and banning any new additions of elephants for rides.
A copy of the committee’s report and a copy of PETA India’s recommendations to the committee is available for download upon request.
The court’s order to appoint a committee was based on concerns about cruelty to elephants and apparently illegal use of them for rides and other activities at Amer Fort and Elephant Village in Jaipur as raised by PETA India, an intervener in the matter, and by the petitioner, the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre. The court had also granted PETA India’s request that its representative be included in the committee.
The committee’s report notes that of the 98 captive elephants inspected, 22 suffered from irreversible eye problems and 42 had foot problems, including overgrown nails and flat footpads from walking on concrete roads. Three elephants who tested positive for tuberculosis (TB) – a potentially fatal zoonotic disease of public health concern – in tests carried out by the committee had also been found to be reactive for TB in tests conducted by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) in 2018, thereby refuting the claims made by the Rajasthan Forest Department that no elephants in the state had TB. The committee recommended in its report that elephants and mahouts be screened for TB twice a year.
“These landmark scientific and humane recommendations mean that the days of using aging, ailing elephants as toys for tourists are numbered,” says PETA India CEO Dr Manilal Valliyate. “PETA India thanks the committee for this evidence-based report with long-term solutions for ending cruelty to elephants and is now calling for these animals to be retired to reputable sanctuaries.”
PETA India – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment” – notes that a previous AWBI inspection report on captive elephants in Jaipur revealed numerous apparent violations of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Many elephants displayed stereotypical behaviour patterns indicating severe mental anguish, such as repetitive swaying and head-bobbing, and all those examined were seen carrying loads heavier than 200 kilograms, which is the legal maximum for elephants on hilly terrain such as that at Amer Fort.