The Legal Loophole
Elephant has the same status as that of the tiger, and was declared the National Heritage Animal in 2010. Despite being protected under law and also being a revered animal, elephant is exploited, mostly by the tourism industry. The Wildlife Protection Act 1972, which was amended in 2002, banned the sale of captive elephants which were not registered with the forest department. However, the exemption under Section 40 giving special status to elephants regarding possession, inheritance or acquisition, has enabled the elephant traders to defy the ban and continue with the illegal trade of these elephants. The trend is people are ‘gifting’ elephants using a loophole in the law and the trade flourishes.
Know the law:
- As a Schedule I animal, under Section 40 (2) of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, it is prohibited to possess, acquire, dispose of and transport a captive elephant without written permission of the Chief Wildlife Warden or the Authorized officer under the WPA, 1972.
- Section 43 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, restricts the sale, purchase or transfers of captive elephants from one person to another for monetary considerations or any other profitable gain.
- Sub section (2A), Section 40: No person other than a person having a certificate of ownership, shall, after the commencement of Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act, 2002, acquire, keep in his control, custody or possession any captive animal, animal article, trophy or uncured trophy specified in Schedule I or Part II of Schedule II, except by way of inheritance.
- Sub section (2B), Section 40: Every person inheriting any captive animal, animal article, trophy or uncured trophy under sub section (2A) shall within ninety days of such inheritance make a declaration to the Chief Wildlife Warden or the authorized officer and the provisions of sections 41 and 42 shall apply as if the declaration has been made under sub section (1) of section 40
Provided that nothing in sub-sections (2A) and(2B) shall apply to the live elephant.