Captive elephants in Kerala illegally captured, PIL in HC says, seeks their release

The petition by animal rights activist Angels Nair also urges the court to order a probe by the CBI or any other external agency into the illegal training, trading, transportation and possession of captive elephants.

ByPTI

Published Mar 21, 2024 | 7:32 PMUpdatedMar 21, 2024 | 7:32 PM

1920px-A_family_group_of_elephants_in_Mudumalai_TR_AJTJohnsingh

A PIL has been filed in the High Court of Kerala in Kochi alleging that the elephants in captivity in Kerala were illegally captured, and sought a ban on their training, trading, parading and possession.

The petition by animal rights activist Angels Nair also urges the court to order the release of captive elephants into the wild in accordance with the guidelines issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) of India.

In addition, he has also urged the court to order a probe by the CBI or any other external agency into the illegal training, trading, transportation and possession of captive elephants.

Besides that, the plea also seeks the quashing of the Captive Elephant (Transfer or Transport) Rules, 2024 framed by the central government.

Read: Estranged Kerala CPI(M) leader Rajendran regrets timing of meeting with Javadekar

Illegal captivity of wild elephants

Nair said it has always been illegal to capture wild elephants for private use in captivity, but there was no law or rules in place prohibiting it prior to 1977.

In 1977, elephants were added to schedule-1 of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 and therefore, it became illegal to capture or tame them, the plea said.

Nair has claimed that more than 54 per cent of the elephants in captivity presently were born after 1977 and therefore, their capture and taming was illegal.

This does not include elephants in rehabilitation centres, hospitals and zoos, the plea said.

He has alleged that captive elephants suffer horrendous torture by their owners who often deprive them of food and water as part of the training process.

Citing figures he claimed to have received under the Right to Information Act, Nair has contended that the captive elephant population in Kerala in December 2010 was 702 and this number came down by 41 per cent to 410 in December 2023.

As on 22 February, 2024, there are 396 captive elephants, he said.

Nair has alleged that of the 134 elephants that died in the state since 2018, only the deaths of three were due to old age.

The rest of them died due to “ill treatment, overwork and merciless torture”, he claimed in his plea which is likely to be listed for hearing in the high court next week.

The petition also accuses the Forest Department of turning a blind eye to such infractions and also colluding with the “elephant mafia” in some cases.

It has said that elephants being tortured and paraded would invite “worldwide shame and disgrace” from the international community and is “unethical for an advanced civilised nation”.

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