World Animal Protection wholeheartedly welcomes the efforts of MOEF (Ministry of Environment and Forests Project Elephant journal) and all associated organisations in promoting the humane treatment of captive elephants. The directive of the Forest Department of Rajasthan to retire nineteen sick elephants from rides in Amer fort in February 2021 is also a positive step forward. World Animal Protection also appreciates the efforts made by the Government to bring compassionate care to captive elephants and enhance protection for wild elephants as stated in the Gajah report published in 2010.
"World Animal Protection believes that the tourism industry is in a unique position to reset the current status quo and restart tourism the right way. The elephants could be retired to genuine sanctuaries which also offer tourism opportunities for ethical travellers."
Elephants- the symbolism of Lord Ganesha
Ganesha, the elephant-headed God, is one of India's most pervasive cultural icons, and the elephant is the real-life manifestation of this deity. India has around 27,000 wild elephants and about 3,000 captive elephants. Many of these animals are used for joyrides and ornamental displays in different venues, including those in Rajasthan and Kerala. Elephants are also used in National Parks and forests where tourists ride them to see wildlife.
As per the records of MoEF&CC, there are 2,675 captive elephants in India. Among these, 1821 are reportedly in private custody, whilst the rest are under the care of the Forest Department of various states. Among captive elephants in private custody, some are owned by individuals, and some by institutions like temples and private owners who keep elephants as status symbols.
The Ministry of Environment and Forests Project Elephant journal
MOEF has also been instrumental in providing technical, financial and moral support to apprehend traders of live elephants and business people dealing in elephant ivory. The MOEF has undertaken significant educational efforts to highlight the plight of elephants in the wild and captivity, including the Gaja Mahotsava held in New Delhi, 2018. India is home to the second-highest number of elephants used in tourism. Of the 21 venues housing 509 elephants, our research found 45% (225) of the elephants kept in captivity requires better welfare and management standards. While highlighting attention on captive elephants' plight, World Animal Protection also remains mindful of the plight of wild elephants and especially those in conflict situations. The motto of World Animal Protection is ‘wildlife belongs in the wild.’”
World Animal Protection advocates the best possible treatment for African Elephants in captivity in Indian zoos in Delhi and Mysore. (Image Credit: Shubhobroto Ghosh)