Following Inaction, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau Urges Rajasthan Government to Submit Enquiry Report on Illegal Custody of Captive Elephants and Likely to Ivory Trade

For Immediate Release:

14 August 2019


Nikunj Sharma; [email protected]

Hiraj Laljani; [email protected]

Last Year, Following PETA India Complaint, the Bureau Directed the Government to Investigate the Matter

Jaipur – Following another complaint by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India, the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) – a statutory body established to combat organised wildlife crime in India has renewed its call to the Chief Wildlife Warden of Rajasthan to submit an enquiry report on the use of elephants for rides at Amer Fort to the bureau immediately. The WCCB is acting in response to findings by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), which revealed in a report that the tusks of many of the elephants had been cut off, raising suspicion that the ivory may have been sold illegally, and that there were problems with ownership certificates and other paperwork. Last year, the WCCB sent a letter directing the Chief Wildlife Warden to initiate an enquiry into the use of elephants at Amer Fort and submit a report to the bureau. However, the Rajasthan government has still not acted.

The 2018 AWBI inspection of 102 elephants used for rides at Amer Fort revealed numerous apparent violations of the Wildlife (Protection) Act (WPA), 1972. The violations include the illegal transfer of custody and transport of elephants into Rajasthan from other states and the illegitimacy of many ownership certificates. Forty-eight ownership certificates issued by the Rajasthan Forest Department refer to the “present market value” of elephants, even though assigning a commercial value to them is prohibited by law, making the certificates invalid. The tusks of 47 elephants were found to have been cut, and the custodians couldn’t produce any documents to prove that the Forest Department had granted them permission to do so, leading the inspectors to conclude that these tusks likely entered the illegal wildlife trade.

“Sick, injured, and illegally held captive elephants are being forced to give rides to tourists in Jaipur,” says PETA India Associate Director of Policy Nikunj Sharma. “PETA India is calling for all illegally held elephants to be seized immediately and transferred to a reputable elephant-care centre where they would never have to haul tourists around or suffer in chains again.”

PETA India – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment” – notes that the estimated weight of the ivory from the 47 elephants’ illegally cut tusks is approximately 23.5 to 47 kilograms, amounting to a significant potential contribution towards crime. Through a recent order in the matter of Wild Life Warden v Komarrikkal Elias, the Supreme Court of India observed that elephant tusks are the property of the government and that there’s a declaration to that effect under Section 39(1) of the WPA.

The AWBI-authorised report also revealed that all the elephants studied were found to be suffering from various foot problems, including overgrown toenails and bruised footpads, and many displayed stereotypical behaviour patterns, such as repetitive swaying and head-bobbing, indicating severe psychological distress. All those examined were seen carrying loads heavier than 200 kilograms, which is the legal maximum for these animals on hilly terrain such as that at Amer Fort.

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