Joymala’s case flags gaps in private ownership norms for elephants
Ecology and Environment
23rd Sep, 2022
The on-going dispute between the Governments of Tamil Nadu and Assam over the alleged mistreatment of a temple elephant named Joymala has brought into focus the prevailing lacunae over private ownership of elephants in India.
- There are about 50,000 - 60000 Asian elephants in the world. More than 60% of the population is held in India.
- There are three subspecies of Asian elephant which are the Indian, Sumatran and Sri Lankan.
- The Indian subspecies has the widest range and accounts for most of the remaining elephants on the continent.
Why private ownership of elephants is a concern?
- As per the MoEFCC, it’s illegal to hold elephants in captivity without ownership certificates.
- Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Assam, Tripura and Madhya Pradesh account for 96% of elephants in captivity without ownership certificates.
- Captive elephants are provided a poor diet and inadequate food. Due to a limited diet, elephants can suffer from intestinal infections, lung-related injections, or impactions.
- It also leads to an increase in “black marketing” of elephants.
- Other threats to Elephants:
- Escalation of poaching
- Habitat loss
- Human-elephant conflict
- Mistreatment in captivity
- Abuse due to elephant tourism
- Rampant mining, Corridor destruction
Why it is happening?
- Lack of law enforcement or governance of the private ownership of elephants in many States.
Important Animal Rights Organisation
- Animal Welfare Board of India
Important Government Initiatives:
- Project RE-HAB
- Use of LiDAR technology
- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)
- People for Animals
- Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations (FIAPO)
About Project Elephant
- It is a flagship programme of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). It was launched in 1992 as a Centrally-sponsored scheme.
- The project aims-
- To protect elephants, their habitat & corridors.
- To address issues of man-animal conflict.
- The welfare of captive elephants.
- It addresses issues of man-animal conflict and welfare of domesticated elephants.
What do the rules say regarding Ownership of Elephants in India?
- Rules only allow for elephants to be exchanged or donated to temples or between private individuals.
- However, without an ownership certificate, the keeping of any elephant in captivity by a private individual is illegal, as per the new amendments to the Wildlife Prevention Act.
- Illegal Elephant trafficking & trade: Elephants are also poached for meat, leather, and body parts with the illegal wildlife trade putting elephants increasingly in danger.
- Threat to Elephant habitat: The loss of habitat due to deforestationincreases in mining and agricultural activities has become problematic, especially for Asian elephants.