Top court wants number of elephants kept in captivity

Top court wants number of elephants kept in captivity

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Chief Wildlife Warden of each state to ascertain the number of elephants held in captivity and grant provisionally an ownership certificate to the institutions and individuals, keeping the tusker for various purposes.

“We are of the view that the Chief Wildlife Warden of each state must identify elephants in captivity in that particular state and whether the owners of these elephants have an ownership certificate. If they do not have the ownership certificate, then after following the mandatory procedures required by law, the ownership certificate may be granted provisionally subject to the final decision,” a bench presided over by Justice Madan B Lokur said.

The court was hearing a PIL filed by Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre and others, contending the elephants held in captivity by temples, zoos, etc were traded and subjected to cruelty. The petitioner claimed the number of captive elephants kept by private persons and religious institutions stood at over 3,000.

The petitioner sought direction to the states to implement the provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 and the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals Act 1960 to protect elephants in captive effectively.

It also sought a direction for conducting a survey of such elephants.

The court directed the Union government's Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to collate the information collected by Chief Wildlife Wardens and file a consolidated affidavit in January, 2019, so that there is consensus on elephants in captivity.