The Kerala Forest Department has warned of strong action against any kind of cruelty towards captive jumbos, in view of a recent Supreme Court order pointing out the need to curb cruelty toward elephants in the state. Any form of cruelty towards the state animal will lead to severe consequences including its confiscation, Chief Wildlife Warden G Harikumar said in Thiruvananthapuram in a circular.
“The owner of the elephant, Devaswom Board, District Committee and Assistant Conservators (Social Forestry) shall see that no elephant is meted with any kind of cruelty,” it said. “If it is found (cruelty), apart from being lodging of criminal prosecution by the Assistant Conservators of Forest (Social Forestry), they shall face severe consequences which may include confiscation of elephants to the state,” it said.
Assistant Conservators of Forest (social forestry) should complete counting of captive jumbos in their respective areas within 15 days and elephant owners who have no data book should apply and obtain one within one week, it said. All the District Collectors and Conveners (assistant conservators of forest, social forestry) have been directed to convene meetings of the District Committee to discuss ways and means to strictly implement the provisions of Section 10 of the Kerala Captive Elephants (Maintenance and Management) Rules 2012.
It also directed strict implementation of Kerala Captive Elephant (Management&Maintenance) Rules 2012. Taking note of pleas alleging cruelty meted out to captive elephants in Kerala, particularly in temples, the apex court had on August 18 directed the top wildlife officer in the state to undertake a head count of all of them and act against those keeping them without the requisite permission.
Referring to the Kerala Captive Elephants (Management and Maintenance) Rules, the court said on its perusal, it was “clear as crystal that it obliges the District Committee to take necessary measures to ensure that the festival committee constituted for smooth conduct of the festivals or the persons organising such functions in which elephants are exposed are required to adhere to many a measure. The District Committee is bound by the Rules and see to it that the festival committees follow the same.” Elephants are used to participate in religious festivals and processions in Kerala.
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