Elephants Not Allowed at Jaipur Elephant Festival Again, Says Animal Welfare Board

For Immediate Release:
14 March 2014

Manilal Valliyate; [email protected]
Sachin Bangera; [email protected]

Renowned Veterinary Experts, Including From PETA and Wildlife SOS, Expose Law Violations and Cruelty During Inspection

Jaipur – Just days before the Elephant Festival (16 March), the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), a statutory body operating under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, has written to the Commissioner of the Rajasthan Department of Tourism denying permission to use elephants during the upcoming festival. AWBI’s decision comes as a result of a detailed inspection report by renowned veterinary experts that revealed rampant violations of the law as well as cruelty to the elephants. The experts included Dr TS Rajeev, assistant professor and project leader for the Centre for Elephant Studies at Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University; Geeta Seshamani, co-founder of Wildlife SOS; Dr Manilal Valliyate, director of veterinary affairs for PETA India; Dr Arun A Sha, director of research and veterinary operations with Wildlife SOS; and Dr Yaduraj K, senior veterinary officer for Wildlife SOS. Last year, elephants were not used in the Elephant Festival after PETA and the AWBI pointed out that the organisers had failed to register them with the AWBI as required under the Performing Animals (Registration) Rules, 2001, and also had not submitted valid elephant ownership certificates.

This year, the veterinary experts’ report revealed invalid ownership certificates, partially and nearly completely blind elephants forced to work, the use of iron ankuses (rods with a sharp metal hook on one end) in violation of the directives of the Rajasthan High Court, ankus wounds on the elephants, severe foot problems caused by forcing the animals to stand and work on concrete, elephants kept chained or tightly tethered and elephants made to live alone in barren concrete cells. The report further pointed out that although the Elephant Village (or Hathigaon), where many of the elephants are kept, operates like a zoo, it does not have authorisation from the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) to do so. It also noted that the CZA banned the keeping of elephants in zoos in 2009 and is phasing them out. A copy of the experts’ inspection report and the AWBI’s letter are available upon request.

“The Elephant Festival is nothing but an exhibition of cruelty to animals – including taking elephants out of nature, and training them and forcing them to live a life of deprivation and servitude”, says PETA India CEO Poorva Joshipura. “The board’s decision marks progress for elephants who, in spite of having ‘national heritage animal’ status, are being forced to live and work like slaves.”

Although it is illegal to beat and torture animals, elephants used for work are trained through beatings and the constant threat of being hit by a stick or an iron ankus. Capturing an elephant is prohibited under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, yet many captive elephants are thought to have been captured illegally from the wild and separated from their mothers as babies.

For more information, please visit PETAIndia.com.