A Kerala-based animal rights group has welcomed the Bihar government’s decision to ban the years’ long practise of trading captive jumbos during the Sonepur cattle fair, billed as one of the largest in India, stating that it will help reduce illegal elephant traffic in the country.
Heritage Animal Task Force, the outfit, said captive jumbos from various states, especially those from Assam, Kerala, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh and Orissa, had been largely exhibited and traded at the fair since 1974. The practise of exhibition and sale of elephants is in violation of Wildlife Protection Act 1972, Task Force Secretary V K Venkatachalam said in Thiruvananthapuram.
“The Bihar Wildlife Board has taken a decision to ban the practise following the intervention of Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar into the issue. Based on a survey conducted on the Sonepur cattle fair by animal rights outfit TRAFFIC in 2013, the minister took up the matter with Bihar government,” he told PTI.
Based on the Centre’s intervention, the Bihar Wildlife Board recently took a decision to control the movement of captive jumbos from outside Bihar. As per the decision, the sale, purchase and transfer of elephants have been banned in the state and elephant owners will be completely responsible for proper feeding, care and maintaining food environment for their captive jumbos, he said.
The Bihar government recently circulated the decisions of its Wildlife Board to all Chief Wildlife Boards in the country for information and similar actions for compliance. The Task Force had also sent a representation to the Environment Minister, seeking a high-level probe into the illegal elephant traffic in Kerala, Venkatachalam added.
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