PETA India Urges Tamil Nadu to Choose Chillies, Not Captivity, to Manage Elephants Like Chinna Thambi

For Immediate Release:

7 February 2019


Nikunj Sharma; [email protected]

Garima Jain; [email protected]

Group Wants State to Issue Guidelines for Humanely Dealing With Wild Elephants

Chennai – Yesterday, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India fired off a letter to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests of the Tamil Nadu Forest Department to add its voice to those urging him to keep the elephant Chinna Thambi in his natural forest home and employ only humane, scientific methods to protect crops and villages or to translocate him to another forested area if necessary. The group also requested that the state government issue guidelines regarding the adoption of effective, compassionate methods for dealing with human-elephant conflicts – including appropriate urban planning that protects or restores forestland – and advised that African farmers have successfully kept elephants away from crops by planting chillies (which can be harvested and sold) around farm perimeters.

A copy of the letter is available upon request.

“Keeping elephants in captivity is inherently cruel, as they are forced to obey commands under threat of violence, fear, and pain,” says PETA India Emergency Response Assistant Neha Chaturvedi. “The natural habitat of Chinna Thambi and other elephants must be conserved and restored, and the state government should work with villages to protect crops by planting chillies and adopting other humane measures.”

Last week, in relation to a Public Interest Litigation, the Madras High Court advised that Chinna Thambi not be subjected to any physical discomfort. It also expressed concern that earth movers are being used to lift tranquilised, captured elephants and that Chinna Thambi previously sustained injuries, including broken tusks, during his capture and failed translocation.

PETA India – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment or abuse in any other way” – notes that effective measures for managing human-elephant conflicts include erecting physical barriers (such as solar-powered electric fencing), providing forest dwellers with interim relief programmes to curb retaliatory action, offering village residents alternatives to forest resources, evacuating people from illegally encroached forestland, exploring and supporting alternative livelihood options, and raising awareness of animal-protection efforts among villagers. The group also points out that many wild-caught elephants and captive-raised adolescent elephants have been successfully translocated into wild populations instead of being forced to suffer in captivity. The International Union for Conservation of Nature, the global authority on the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it, issued its “Guidelines for the In Situ Translocation of the African Elephant for Conservation Purposes” in 2003.

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