New Delhi: An animal welfare activist has asked Union Environment, Forests and Climate Change Minister Harsh Vardhan to ban use of captive elephants to force-demolish "illegal" structures. The demand came after the Assam government had used the captive elephants to demolished illegal settlements by encroachers in Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary on Monday.
In his petition submitted to Vardhan on Tuesday, Master Trainer in animal welfare of Animal Welfare Board of India, Azam Siddiqui said that the practice of using captive elephants to demolish structures which include semi-concrete/ concrete and bamboo with roof tops made of corrugated iron sheets is extremely dangerous and can cause serious harm to both the animal and the public.
"Forcing an elephant into this herculean task also does amount to cruelty under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. Since it is noticed that the animal is forced by the mahout to pull down the structures by being goaded by the ankush," Siddiqui noted.
Pointing out that the Assam Forest Department and the officials have time and again been seen repeating this offence in 2002, in 2011 and now in 2017 despite experts advising them not to do so, the Animal Welfare Activist said, "It is quite likely that the animal may injure itself in the process and perhaps even go berserk, this danger has never ever been calculated by the Assam Forest Department"
Moreover, he said that the resistance provided by the public can cause injury or harm to the animal which in turn could go berserk causing harm to itself and precious human lives. Seeking the intervention of the Union Minister, Siddiqui said, "As someone who understand elephants and is trained in its management, I seek your valued intervention to put an immediate ban on any further usage of captive elephants from being engaged in such an act. The demolition drive may be allowed by use of human force or machines such as bulldozers."
In case the Forest Department or the Government/Administration still wishes to go ahead with the demolition, Siddiqui suggested that they obtain the necessary permission from the Animal Welfare Board of India, Union Ministry of Environment and Forests and Project Elephant. (IANS)