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Feb 26, 2010

A great victory in the history of Wild Life cases in the country where a historical judgment is passed by Hon’ble Chief Justice Mr. Jagdish Bhalla and Hon’ble Justice Mr. M. N. Bhandari of Rajasthan High Court, Jaipur Bench in CJ’s Court.

In DB Civil Writ petition no. 8987/2006 (P I L)  Naresh Kumar Kadyan, Chairman, People for Animals Haryana Vs Chief Secretary, Govt. of Raj. & Ors. The matter was heard by the hon’ble Court; Advocate Mr. Ajay Kumar Jain appeared on behalf of the petitioners and Mr. Raj Panjwani, Senior Advocate on behalf of PETA India and Mr. S. N. Kumawat, AAG on behalf of  Govt. of Raj., Advocates Mr. Ravi Kiran Mathur and Miss Shaifali on behalf of Elephant Owners Association appeared before the Court.

Today the hon’ble Rajasthan High Court passed a order in which complete ban on use  Iron Ankush on Elephants in any manner. The Hon’ble also directed to follow the guidelines issued by the State Govt. as rules, till the rules are not framed.

This is the only judgment in the country where the Court has completely baned on use of Ankush on Elephants and treated guidelines as rules.

It is pertinent to mention that the case was filed by Dr. M. S. Kachhawa, Advocate and up to 2009 it was argued by him time to time, no. of guidelines and directions were issued by Hon’ble Court in the interest of Wild Life, more than 10 people were arrested for illegal possession of elephants. After, Dr. Kachhawa became Govt. Counsel and the case was transferred to Advocate Ajay Kumar Jain.

In last but not least Naresh Kadyan thankful to full co-operation of Wild Life Trust of India, New Delhi. Especially, Mr. Ashok Kumar, Senior Vice-President and Trustee of WTI, New Delhi till last.
Abhishek Kadyan, Media Adviser to the International Organisation for Animal Protection - OIPA in India

By Sharon St. Joan, Best Friends Network

Rajasthan is the largest state in India in terms of area. In northwestern India, Rajasthan is about the size of Germany and includes the Great Indian Desert, the Thar Desert.

The Rajasthan High Court is considering a move to ban bringing new elephants into Rajasthan for the tourism sector.

Rajasthan has a desert climate, which is unsuitable for elephants, and elephants, who do not naturally live in Rajasthan, are imported into the state in order to spend their lives giving rides to tourists.

The Amber Fort elephants

Near Jaipur, the capitol of Rajasthan, is an ancient citadel, known as the Amber Fort, which is a major tourist attraction. Elephants give rides to tourists starting at the base of the hill and going all the way up to the top, where the fort is located, and then back down again.

During weddings and other occasions, elephants are elaborately dressed and painted. The elephants look very impressive, but they are far from comfortable.

Compassion Unlimited Plus Action (CUPA), based in Bangalore, has, for a number of years, been investigating captive elephants in India, with the purpose of improving their lives.

This research project, funded by WSPA, has been done in collaboration with the Asian Nature Conservation Foundation (ANCF).

The immediate aim of the court case is to bring about the confiscation of elephants who do not have ownership certificates. This will be a starting point towards helping the elephants, and will save some elephants from the miserable circumstances of carrying tourists all day.

"We hope…smuggling will not be easy in the future."

Suparna Ganguly, Vice-President of CUPA writes, "We hope that elephants without authentic ownership certificates will get to be taken away and kept in Care Centers, and that this move will alert the Government and traders that smuggling of elephants will not be easy in the future."

Legally, an ownership certificate is supposed to be issued only to owners who abide by certain welfare conditions; however in practice, government officials are not quite clear on what these conditions should be, so the certificates can be issued without welfare standards being met.

Suparna Ganguly explains, "That is why CUPA-ANCF is doing a huge report on welfare parameters--because we were told that no Government agency is clear about what is meant by 'housing, upkeep and maintenance' as specified in the Wildlife Protection Act of India (WLPA)."

This comprehensive report, which is still in process, is the result of years of investigations into the situation of captive elephants all across India.

In the meantime, CUPA and the ANCF have compiled a short report addressing specifically the needs and difficulties of the elephants in Rajasthan.

The Rajasthan court case

If the Rajasthan court case is successful, then elephants will no longer be able to be imported into the state of Rajasthan, since there will be a legal court opinion stating that the desert terrain of Rajasthan is unsuitable for elephants. This will prevent elephants in the future from being sold into Rajasthan to become tourist elephants.

The report that was submitted to the court, "Assessment of Asian Elephant Vulnerability to Extreme Temperature Variation" co-authored by Sujata S. Iyengar and Suparna Baksi-Ganguly, of CUPA, begins:

"There are approximately 115-118 elephants in captivity in Rajasthan State. Most of these are stationed around key tourist destinations such as Jaipur, Udaipur, and other locales. These elephants are used to provide rides for tourists to visit the Amber Fort. Many are also included in ceremonies such as marriages and public functions to provide a sense of the exotic. Previous to their employment, all have been wild-caught and subsequently subjected to brutal "breaking" procedures. This practice has had a long history."

The report then gives a history of how the elephants came to be in Rajasthan originally. The elephants were kept by royal families as a mark of prestige. However, with time and the economic decline of these families, they were no longer able to house the elephants in appropriate conditions. They gave away the elephants, who then had to earn their keep by carrying tourists.

All of Rajasthan's elephants need help

The report continues: "Today, all of the Rajasthan elephants are in a critical state. Their vulnerability derives from poor handling and treatment and harsh, life threatening living conditions."

The remaining wild elephants of India number 22,000 to 28,000--just a fraction of the vast population that used to live in India. The elephants' natural habitat extends over both north and south India, but it does not extent to the desert region of Rajasthan in the far west, which has great extremes of temperature and very low rainfall.

Because they are the largest land animals, elephants have a very large mass compared to their surface area. This means that they cannot lose heat quickly, and they have trouble thermo-regulating.

How elephants in the wild keep cool

In the wild, elephants have natural ways to deal with this. They can take a bath in the river or stand under a shady tree, but these means aren't available if the elephant is being forced to spend all day climbing up and down hills in the bright sunlight carrying tourists.

By the same token, warming up after being too cold can take an elephant a long time as well. In the desert climate of Rajasthan, where it's too cold in the morning, and too hot under the noon sun. the elephant is under constant stress from inappropriate temperatures, which cause not only great discomfort, but debilitating and life-threatening conditions.

The report concludes that Rajasthan is ill-suited as a place for elephants, and that there needs to be a ban on bringing new elephants into Rajasthan. Over time, the mahouts (elephant handlers) need vocational training to enable them to take up other occupations, and resources should be used to build proper shelters for the elephants already in Rajasthan to enable them to better withstand the extreme climate variations.

The High Court Advocate, Dr. M. S. Kachhawa, who is pleading the case on behalf of the elephants, has expressed his appreciation for the CUPA/ANCF report, stating that it will enable the court to base its decision on actual information about the circumstances of Rajasthan elephants.

Suparna Ganguly adds "After this generation of elephants, it would be ideal that such wild animals are not brought into such negative climatic and living conditions...."

In this important court case, it is to be hoped that justice will prevail,
to bring about happier lives for the elephants. Thanks to CUPA and the ANCF for compiling this report that so clearly makes the case for the elephants!

नरेश कादयान
अध्यक्ष,पीपल्स फॉर एनिमल हरियाणा,
Naresh Kadyan
अंतरराष्ट्रीय पशु रक्षा संगठन के भारतीय प्रतिनिधि
Representative of the International Organization for Animal Protection in India,
Chairman, PFA Haryana
+91-9813010595 , 9313312099
पशुओं के प्रति क्रूरता निवारणःनियम अधिनियम और सूचनाएँ
Visibility: Everyone
Posted: Friday February 26, 2010, 7:15 am
Tags: elephant haryana polopfa [add/edit tags]

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