'Jumbo protests' in Kerala against proposed elephant rules

The committee has been up in arms ever since the Elephant Task Force, which submitted its recommendations to union Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh in Delhi Aug 31, advocated making elephants the "national heritage animal" and change the ownership of domesticated elephants by their present owners to only guardianship.

The activists had brought a total of 16 elephants but only used one following a request by police that the 16 would cause traffic problems.

Ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) legislator Babu. M. Palissery, who is also the patron of the committee, contended the Task Force's recommendation would affect the use of domesticated elephants in religious festivals in Kerala.

"(Task Force chief Mahesh) Rangarajan had prepared the recommendations without conducting any meaningful discussion with those sections of the society here who are involved with the elephants. Can you imagine the famed Thrissur Pooram without the elephants? elephants are part and parcel of the festivals in temples and churches in the state," Palissery told IANS.

Similar protest marches were held in Palakkad, Ernakulam, Kottayam and Pathanamthitta.

"We are now meeting Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan for the urgent need for his intervention and we will request him to call an all party meeting to discuss this issue. We want an all party delegation from here to meet Jairam Ramesh to see that these recommendations do not come into force," said Palissery.
There are 900 captive elephants in Kerala presently.

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