A 27-year-old elephant named Gangadharan was hit and killed by a bus in India years ago, but the case was just finalized recently. The Supreme Court awarded the temple that owned the elephant 1.3 million rupees, because they said animals are eligible for compensation for damages sustained in road accidents just as humans are.
“The definition of property in the Motor Vehicles Act is very wide and is inclusive. Although it does not specifically mention animals, since it is inclusive, animals also should be included,” explained one of the Supreme Court Justices. (Source: TheHindu.com)
The amount of the financial compensation was determined by first considering the monthly income created by the elephant for the temple. According to Coinmill.com 1.3 million rupees is $24,616.58 U.S. dollars. Recognizing the right of animals to be compensated for damage or death from road accidents could have far-reaching consequences, as human – elephant conflict kills many elephants every year.
Also, when it is wild elephants that are killed or injured in road accidents, where would the compensation be paid? Hopefully it would go to an elephant conservation charity, or a government wildlife agency.
Seven wild elephants were killed in one train accident in India – an accident that never should have taken place. Critics have said the train conductor was traveling at a speed over the limit in an area where it is well known elephants roam and cross the tracks. It doesn’t seem to have been reported if there was a legal case against the train’s owner, or if any compensation was paid.
About 26,000 Asiatic elephants live in India.Their population might have declined 50% over the last three generations, and so they are considered endangered. A significant factor in their decline is habitat loss due to human activity. Approximately 5,000 Indian elephants are domesticated.
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