World Wildlife Day highlights plight of captive elephants in India
As part of this awareness drive “Rang Rajasthan” a Rajasthani theatre & folk festival organized by “Rang Mastaaney Sanstha”, concluded its eighth edition of the cultural festival in collaboration with World Animal Protection, state government departments, corporates, academic institutions, and communities, culminating ahead of World Wildlife Day with an objective to change people behavior towards elephants used for rides and raise awareness about elephant cruelty and suffering.
World Wildlife Day highlights plight of captive elephants in India
Shubhobroto Ghosh, Wildlife Research Manager, World Animal Protection in India
Walk theatre in Jaipur to support No Pride in Elephant Ride by Rang Mastaaney as part of Rang Rajasthan theatre festival. Photograph: World Animal Protection
Elephant in Amer fort in Jaipur Photograph: Shubhobroto Ghosh/World Animal Protection
Students of Prem Mandir Shiksha Sanstha, Jawahar Nagar Jaipur participated and highlighted their emotions to protect wildlife through poster making Photograph: World Animal Protection
The Madurai Bench of Madras High Court recently directed the Secretary of Government, Environment and Forest department to make sure there is no new acquisition of elephants by temples and religious institution in Tamil Nadu.
The court also directed the Secretaries to conduct inspection of all temples and privately-owned elephants. This directive, on the eve of World Wildlife Day brought to light the importance of keeping attention focused on the plight of elephants in captivity, both in the wild and in captivity.
World Wildlife Day was observed as a reminder and wake up call to protect our wildlife from being exploited and save them from a life of needless cruelty and suffering. A series of public awareness activities were organized during the “Rang Rajasthan” event at Jaipur in support of “No Pride In Elephant Ride” campaign seeking public support to end elephant rides in Amer Fort, Jaipur.
As part of this awareness drive “Rang Rajasthan” a Rajasthani theatre & folk festival organized by “Rang Mastaaney Sanstha”, concluded its eighth edition of the cultural festival in collaboration with World Animal Protection, state government departments, corporates, academic institutions, and communities culminating ahead of World Wildlife Day with an objective to change people behavior towards elephants used for rides and raise awareness about elephant cruelty and suffering.
This year's festival began with a ‘Walk Theatre’ showcasing the plight and pain of captive elephants forced into commodification in partnership with World Animal Protection, India; compelling its audience to think and ponder on "Why there is No Pride In Elephant Ride".
This 16-kilometer theatre walk across the city of Jaipur drew attention to break myths and beliefs on elephants which are seen as domestic animals and can be used for commercial benefit. The message to see these elephants as sentient beings with their right to live a life worth living was spread through this theatre walk in Jaipur.
The festival held from Feb 19 to Feb 28 with many other activities later witnessed street plays, demonstrations by World Animal Protection. Volunteers educating people on the real lifelong suffering of captive elephants for short-lived thrill and entertainment. A large participation and support were observed by visitors and people during the festival who joined this movement calling to end and phase out rides with appropriate solutions for all, through the petition addressed to the government of Rajasthan.
“We urge the government of Rajasthan to initiate the process to phase out elephant rides at Amer Fort Jaipur. Elephants deserve a life worth living in a natural environment. World Animal Protection is keen to work with the government and other stakeholders to find sustainable solutions for elephants and alternative livelihood support for Mahouts” said Gajender K Sharma, Country Director, World Animal Protection, India.
Alongside multiple activities ahead of the World Wildlife Day, World Animal Protection has also written to MPs and MLAs of Jaipur to seek their support to phase out elephant rides and build a sustainable solution for the betterment of elephants and mahouts, which will also help Rajasthan to become a model state promoting wildlife tourism.
"Rang Rajasthan heartily supports this campaign No Pride In Elephant Ride. I believe animal cruelty not only shows the harsh behavior towards animals but as well reflects the cruel greedy heart of humans. I am grateful as a supporter to World Animal Protection which is working tirelessly for the welfare of animals. With my team I am making efforts and aspire to make this a people movement. A movement urging people to think before they act which can lead to unknowing cruelty towards animals and wildlife,” said Abhishek Mudgal, founder Rang Mastaaney and organizer of Rang Rajasthan Festival.
On World Wildlife Day, individuals from a variety of backgrounds gauged their attitudes on animals in entertainment and obtained their respective pledges to not ride an elephant in future.
“Wildlife has the right to a wildlife, we believe animals should be free from any form of cruel exploitation, commodification and thrive within their natural habitat that is humanely protected. We aspire to demonstrate more humane, sustainable alternative solutions to protect wild animals and their habitats and by working with the government and authorities to help work on solutions viable for captive elephants their habitats and dependents who are well taken care of.” added Gajender K Sharma, Country Director, World Animal Protection India.
The Festival Rang Rajasthan was initially designed in 2015 to promote Rajasthani culture by providing an artistic space for Rajasthani theatre and folk performances. Now, it has evolved into a collaborative space for various art forms and performances from across the country. In the years since this festival has reached throughout the Jaipur theatre community.
Today, there is a lot of concern about the plight of elephants in India both in the wild and in captivity. The Oscar winning film, ‘Elephant Whisperers’ has also garnered a lot of media attention. Nonetheless, the elephant is still undergoing brutal treatment in the wild as well as in captivity. On the occasion of World Wildlife Day, it is hoped a new moral ethic can help us to provide better treatment to these pachyderms and leave them where they belong, in.
Shubhobroto Ghosh, Wildlife Research Manager of World Animal Protection in India and author of the book, ‘Dreaming In Calcutta And Channel Islands’