Rajasthan—A court in India has stepped in to save a 10-year old elephant, Suman, from her miserable life of illegal captivity in chains, following a complaint filed by animal charities Humane Society International/India and People For Animals. HSI and PFA discovered that Suman—separated from her mother as a baby and sold from person to person on the black market—was being kept illegally in Ajmer without the required documents under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, by persons who after being discovered fled with the elephant to Jaipur.
The Honorable Chief Judicial Magistrate of Ajmer has directed the Chief Wildlife Warden of Rajasthan to take custody of the young elephant and move her to a state-run rescue facility. HSI/India and PFA brought the incident to the attention of Forest Department officials last week.
HSI India and PFA welcome the ruling. Smt. Gauri Maulekhi, Government Liaison Officer to HSI/India and PFA Trustee, says: “It is an extremely positive move by the Hon’ble Court and the Rajasthan Forest Department for Suman. Elephants are supposed to be a protected species in India and it is only right that the state be responsible for their well-being and safety. Elephants like Suman have been illegally brought into the state and in almost every case the person holding them captive has no ownership certificate. These animals are tortured, beaten and broken so that they can be made to work, condemning these gentle animals to a miserable life of abuse. We hope that this order will set an important precedent and have a positive impact on the lives of all the other elephants suffering in illegal captivity just like little Suman, who have known only horrible treatment at the hands of humans.”
In India and elsewhere, elephants who are forced to work all too frequently endure tremendous mental, physical and emotional abuse. Their spirits are broken, even as they are denied the ability to express their most basic natural behaviours such as foraging for food or socializing with other elephants. Such animals are beaten regularly to make them obey, and the use of a sharp iron rod or ‘ankush’ for rides is prevalent in places such as Amer, despite being banned. These elephants have no respite from being overworked and are denied proper food, adequate water or medical treatment.
Elephant are often captured as babies and undergo a ruthless training regime called ‘the crush’, whereby they are beaten, poked and starved into submission by their handlers. Such abuse continues well into their old age.
HSI/India has also filed a complaint against the multiple owners of elephants used for rides in Amer Fort, Jaipur on the basis of a health inspection report by The Animal Welfare Board of India which uncovered animal cruelty and deplorable health conditions.
- On 22nd May, Rajendra Kumar Sharma – without the permission of the Forest Department – transported a young elephant by the name of Suman from Ajmer to Jaipur.
- On 23rd May an FIR (First Information Report) was lodged against the same for blatantly disregarding the laws set under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 .
- On 25th May Forest Department Officials seized the elephant from the accused and took her into their custody.
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