New Delhi: PETA India has appealed to members of the Rajya Sabha to seek amendments to the Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2022, to include a provision that explicitly prohibits the granting of ownership certificates and transfer of elephants through any means to private individuals and religious institutions.
Allowances to gift, power of attorney, lease and donate encourage illegal trade in elephants and their wild capture, it said.
Introduced in the Lok Sabha by the Union Environment Ministry in December 2021, the Wildlife Protection Amendment Bill was passed by the lower House in August. It is still awaiting passage in the Rajya Sabha with wildlife activists criticising the amendment made to Section 43 of the Bill that permits elephants, a Schedule I animal, to be used for ‘religious or any other purpose’.
“Elephants are the only wild animals allowed to be owned by private individuals. Section 43(1) of the Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2022, prohibits any sale of captive animals, including elephants – yet they are transferred commercially under the guise of gifts and donations,” PETA India said in a statement.
It said the proposed amendment failed to address this loophole even as captive elephants were chained and beaten and subjected to psychological distress for various uses.
“The permission granted by law to ‘own’ elephants has caused many to be stolen from their homes in the wild and led to their abuse and exploitation,” the statement quoted PETA India Director of Advocacy Projects Khushboo Gupta as saying.
“PETA India urges members of Parliament to use the opportunity of the revision of the wildlife law to truly protect our national heritage animal from cruelty,” the statement said.
Elephants used for rides or in ceremonies, films, and other performances are typically torn from their mothers when young, chained up when not forced to work, kept in isolation, and controlled through the use of weapons.
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According to one report, while there are 2,675 captive elephants in India, only 1,251 ownership certificates have been issued by different states, PETA India said.
Assam, Kerala, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Tripura and Uttar Pradesh account for 96 per cent of the elephants in captivity without ownership certificates, in violation of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.
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