For Immediate Release:
27 November 2018
Nikunj Sharma; [email protected]
Garima Jain; [email protected]
Campaign Shows Elephant Beaten at Amer Fort to Urge Tourists to Steer Clear of Cruel Elephant Rides
Jaipur – After airport authorities succumbed to pressure from elephant ride promoters, taking down a recently placed hard-hitting billboard by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India from the arrivals lounge, above the exit gate of the airport, the group, determined to ensure tourists learn the truth about elephant rides, has put up a new billboard at the Collectorate Circle facing Kabir Marg and promises more billboards will appear at sites visible to tourists in the city. The billboard features an elephant who was beaten continuously for 10 minutes by handlers, as witnessed by a group of American tourists at Amer Fort, alongside the words “Shackled, Beaten, and Abused. Be a Compassionate Traveller: Say No to Elephant Rides”. This is PETA India’s third billboard in the campaign erected in Jaipur. The first one was placed at the railway station flyover in the city in August, followed by the second one at the airport.
The incident featured in the ad prompted Bollywood actor Sonakshi Sinha to write a letter on PETA India’s behalf calling on authorities to relocate the animal to a rehabilitation facility for urgent care. Instead, the abused elephant continues to be used for rides.
“It is shameful that airport authorities are trying to block tourists from learning that elephant rides mean misery for elephants. PETA India’s billboard campaign featuring the heart-wrenching image of a suffering captive elephant being viciously beaten by a group of men at Amer Fort will continue,” says PETA India’s Associate Director of Policy Nikunj Sharma.
The billboard follows the release in April of a damning report that revealed shocking cruelty to elephants used for rides at Amer Fort and Elephant Village (Hathigaon), which prompted PETA India to file a petition before the Jaipur Bench of the High Court of Rajasthan seeking to end illegal elephant rides at both locations. Recently, the High Court permitted PETA India to approach the Supreme Court in a similar matter that’s currently pending before the apex court.
According to the report, among the 102 working elephants examined at Amer Fort, many were found to be more than 50 years old, 10 tested reactive to tuberculosis (TB) – which can be transmitted to humans – and 19 were observed to be visually impaired, rendering them unfit to give rides because of the danger posed to both themselves and the public. All 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. Additionally, the tusks of 47 elephants appeared to have been cut, in apparent violation of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, raising suspicion that the ivory may have entered the illegal wildlife trade. And all those examined were seen carrying loads heavier than 200 kilograms, which is the legal maximum for these animals on hilly terrain. The post-mortem reports for four elephants who died within a period of five months in 2017 indicate that most had been suffering from respiratory diseases – possibly TB – and a heavy internal parasitic load.
PETA India – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment or abuse in any other way” – notes that just last year, a captive elephant used in Kerala’s tourism industry was beaten so badly that the animal’s leg broke.
More than 50 travel agencies – including global operators such as TripAdvisor, The Travel Corporation, Intrepid Travel, smarTours, STA Travel, and TUI Group – have committed to not offering activities that exploit elephants.
For more information, please visit PETAIndia.com.