Jaipur activists strive for better conditions for elephants

Jaipur, Sep 29 : After the news of four elephants that died in Hathi Gaon, Jaipur, came to light, activists have turned to the Forest Department and Rajasthan Government for answers.

There has been no income for the elephant owners or exercise for elephants due to the pandemic that has affected tourism, as noted in statements by the department.

Unconvinced by this response, local organisations and activists led by Help in Suffering and Angel Eyes are organising a nationwide digital protest and a protest rally at Albert Hall and a candle-light vigil at Amer Fort on October 1.

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A recent Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) report cites that “Out of 102 elephants, 19 captive elephants were observed to be blind, either unilaterally (right or left eye) or bilaterally (both eyes), rendering them unfit for any work, as the safety of the elephant and the people are at high risk if such wild ani-mals are used at public places and for rides. Moreover, of the 91 elephants screened for tuberculosis (TB), 10 elephants were found to be positive for tuberculosis.”

Yet they were allowed to interact with other elephants and tourists, and were used for rides.

TB is a zoonotic disease putting humans and animals at risk. Two out of four elephants in question had tested reactive for tuberculosis (TB) in 2018 during the AWBI inspection, but were declared TB-free by the Rajasthan Forest Department in 3-5 months, while actually it takes at least 6-12 month intensive treatment for any elephant to recover from TB. These are alarming facts.

Neither the Forest Department, the Animal Husbandry department, nor the owners are taking responsibility for the deaths, and yet these animals continue to be owned despite their Schedule 1 status as per the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.

Managing Trustee, Help in Suffering, Timmie Kumar said “The owners of the elephants and the Forest Department want us to believe that the elephants suffered health issues as they were not getting sufficient exercise as compared to before the lockdown as tourism has come to a standstill. They are playing the sympathy card hoping that once travel and tourism resume, the tourists will have bought into their lies. Unfortunately, the elephant owners have very large egos. When they were approached by local volunteers to offer help for food, they flatly refused. “

Mariam Abuhaideri, co-organiser, Help in Suffering, said “In just a matter of months, the elephants have perished due to negligence and lack of adequate care. Going up the hill to Amer on hot tar roads is bad for the elephants and their feet. Their eyesight gets affected, they get ankush wounds, skin gets discoloured, and they don’t get enough water to drink because the elephant owners have primitive thinking. Numerous studies confirm that captive elephants develop high levels of stress. There is a direct link between captivity and poor health. The conditions at Hathi Gaon are appalling, to say the least, and all in the name of heritage and business.”

Protesters will gather at Albert Hall at 4 PM, followed by a vigil and gathering at Amer Fort at 6 PM.

“We urge the government of Rajasthan to protect and not let the elephants die constantly in the name of heritage and tourism , there have been 20 odd elephants who have died in the past few years and 4 of them in the recent months. What is the purpose of the forest department if they cant protect Wildlife?” wonders Abhishek Singh, Founder of Angel Eyes.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-generated from IANS service.

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