Following PETA Complaint, Rajasthan Forest Department Issues ‘Show Cause’ Notice to Elephant’s Custodian

For Immediate Release:

13 July 2017


Dr Manilal Valliyate; [email protected]

Shambhavi Tiwari; [email protected]

Shocked American Tourist Contacts PETA After Witnessing the Beating of an Elephant Used for Rides by Handlers

Jaipur – Following a complaint filed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India with the Chief Wildlife Warden (CWLW) of the Rajasthan Forest Department upon learning from an American tourist that an elephant used for rides to Amber Fort was mercilessly beaten, Deputy Forest Officer (DFO) Sudarshan Sharma issued a show cause notice to Wasid Khan, the elephant’s custodian and a resident of Ghat Gate, Jaipur, for being responsible for the abuse of the elephant. The show cause notice states that the investigation carried out by the Regional Forest Officer (RFO) for Jaipur Zoo as well as the 26 June newspaper article and photograph indicate that the elephant (No 44) was treated cruelly. The American tourist had reported to PETA that eight men, including the mahout, beat the suffering animal with sticks for up to 10 minutes.

According to the notice, the investigation conducted by the RFO revealed that the elephant was not adequately fed, leading her to go after a banana, eventually attacking another elephant (No 97) and breaking a boom barrier. The notice further pointed out that the photograph taken by the tourist clearly shows the elephant being beaten or threatened. According to the notice, both acts – failing to provide adequate food and threatening or beating a wild animal – are covered under the category of “cruelty”, as per the 2008 “Guidelines for Care and Management of Captive Elephants” issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. The 29 June notice asked the custodian of the elephant to submit the vaccination, disease, and treatment records; movement, feeding, and work registers; and all the other records to the office of the DFO within five days, along with an explanation.

“Beating, threatening, and not properly feeding an elephant, a highly protected species under the law, is a serious crime,” says PETA CEO Dr Manilal Valliyate. “PETA is calling for the perpetrators to be punished to the fullest extent of the law and for officials to seize the animal and transfer her to a reputable elephant-care centre, where she can get the care she needs, live unchained, and enjoy the company of other elephants.”

In its complaint to the CWLW, PETA pointed out that ill treatment of a wild animal who has been declared a national heritage animal by the government of India is an atrocity and amounts to apparent serious violations of numerous animal-protection laws, including Section 42 of The Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, which mandates that facilities for housing, maintenance, and upkeep be adequate in order to possess an ownership certificate for the purpose of keeping a captive elephant. The show cause notice issued by the Rajasthan Forest Department proves that the custodian of the abused elephant at Amber Fort had failed to fulfil this important legal mandate.

Captive elephants forced to give rides to tourists are treated cruelly and suffer from physical and mental distress. A 2014 inspection of conditions for captive elephants in Jaipur – conducted by a team authorised by the Animal Welfare Board of India, which included experienced veterinarians and animal-welfare experts from PETA – revealed rampant and widespread abuse of elephants used for rides and other tourist activities, in apparent violation of animal-protection laws, including the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.

PETA – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way” – notes that elephants in nature live in matriarchal herds and are active for 18 hours per day, foraging for fresh vegetation, playing, bathing in rivers, and travelling as far as 50 kilometres. Elephants in captivity are denied the opportunity to have control over their own lives and to roam vast distances and often suffer from foot problems and arthritis because of long periods spent standing on hard surfaces. They can develop neurotic forms of behaviour, and many suffer from malnutrition or dehydration or die prematurely.

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