Following FIAPO’s appeal Project Elephant asks Govt. of Tamil Nadu to investigate elephant abuse case!
Chennai, 3rdMarch 2021: In response to the appeal filed by the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO) to the Forest Department, Government of Tamil Nadu, and the Project Elephant under the Ministry of Environment & Forest, on brutality against the elephant Joymala, who was beaten up mercilessly by her mahout, the Project Elephant took immediate action and has asked the Chief Wildlife Warden, Tamil Nadu to look into the matter and take urgent action under Wildlife Protection Action, 1972, related States Rules and Guidelines for Care and Management of Captive elephants. The Project Elephant has also asked CWLW, Tamil Nadu to send a report on this to the Ministry of Environment & Forest. (Notice attached for reference)
FIAPO has appealed to the authorities to take custody of Joymala from the temple and provide her rehabilitation with medical assistance both for physical and mental health; locate the original owner of the elephant holding the ownership certificate and punish him as per the law for illegally transferring the animal to a different state and prosecute the culprits under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
Elephant brutality in the state of Tamil Nadu is rising. In the year 2020 several incidents of elephant brutality occurred and more than 64 elephants died in Tamil Nadu. Not having recovered from the death of an elephant in January 2021 by throwing a burning tyre on him, the video released last month showing the brutality towards a female elephant by two men at a temple premises brings back the horrid memories.
The said elephant ‘Joymala or Jeyamalyatha’ has been held captive in the Nachiyar Temple of Srivilliputhur in Tamil Nadu for the past thirteen years. In the video, the two men, one of whom is the Mahout of the elephant, are constantly and brutally hitting the elephant with sticks on her front and hind legs while Joymala is seen screaming in pain. Joymala was brought from Assam on a six-month lease in 2008 and since has been held captive in the Nachiyar Temple. As per the Tamil Nadu Forest Department, Joymala is owned by one Girin Morin of Kakopathur in Tinsukia District of Assam. Under the pretense of leasing to a private owner, which under Section 43 of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 is illegal, she was sent to Tamil Nadu where she was held captive and was never returned to her owner.
Under Section 43 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, no person having in his possession a captive animal, in respect of which he has a certificate of ownership, shall transfer by way of sale or offer for sale by any other mode of consideration of commercial nature, such animal. Also, under Section 39 of the WPA, the onus of taking reasonable measures to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all wild animals lies with the Government. The forest department remains the primary custodian of all elephants whether captive or wild. The Indian constitution under articles 48A and 51A (g) also underpins a duty to protect and safeguard the wildlife in the country and show compassion to all living creatures. The owners of the captive elephants are required to ensure the upkeep and maintenance of the elephants however this incident has confirmed some of our worst fears linked to the captivity of elephants.
Recently on 23rd February 2021, the High Court of Madras inRangarajanNarasimhan v. The Chief Secretary and Ors, over the alleged inhumane treatment of certain elephants at the SrirangamRanganathaswamy temple observed –
“2. There must be a uniform policy that all elephants, privately owned or temple owned come under the care of the Forest Department and future ownership of elephants by individuals and temples be completely prohibited. The Forest Department should come up with an appropriate plan to ensure the well-being of the elephants that are now privately owned and temple owned and may not be treated so well as was evident from a video which went viral on social media a couple of days ago. Any kind of mistreatment of elephants and other animals must be dealt with promptly and as mercilessly as such persons deal with the animals. Exploitation of animals for all purposes should be stopped except for limited government controlled exercises say, horse-riding or camel-riding on the beach, but even these cannot be privately operated since the treatment of the animals cannot be checked or monitored.”
FIAPO (Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations) is India’s leading animal protection body. As a collective voice for the animal protection community in India, FIAPO unites all animal protection organisations nationwide acting as their resource and information centre to exchange ideas, build expertise and take action to strengthen the animal rights movement in the country. FIAPO works with over 160 member organisations, 200 supporter organisations and over 1000 activists in more than 70 cities across India. They are the largest Federation in the country and one of the (two) largest movement-building organisations in the world.