Animal rights body seeks probe into death of 30 elephants in one month

New Delhi, Jul 10 (PTI):
Animal rights body FIAPO on Friday urged the Centre to constitute a committee to probe the death of 30 elephants across the country within a month.
In a letter-cum-petition to Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations compiled and attached news reports regarding the deaths of 30 elephants that took place between May 27 and June 29, 2020.
The written petition recommends the committee to include representatives from investigating agencies, forest departments, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, government and non-government agencies (including wildlife experts and scientists) to investigate the deaths of elephants, and propose long term, effective policy changes to protect elephants from violent crimes.
“Most of the mentioned cases from the 12 states of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Assam, Meghalaya, Uttarakhand and Kerala appear to have involved violence.
“In some cases, it is even clear that the deaths are linked to illegal poaching for ivory,” FIAPO said.
The body also pointed out that the existent legal framework for the protection of elephants was lenient.
Currently, hunting of these protected species is a crime under Section 9 of the Wildlife Protection Act with imprisonment for a term which may only extend to three years, or with fine not below Rs 10,000.
“As a result of such lenient laws, illegal activities, with animals being subjected to violence and being treated as commodities, don’t stop,” it said.
Varda Mehrotra, Executive Director FIAPO, said it was worrying as elephants are protected under the UN convention for migratory species.
“This is a highly worrying trend, as elephants are endangered and protected under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and also the UN Convention for Migratory Species.
“They are officially recognized as a National Heritage Animal in India with the highest protection under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. We need to address the elephant in the room,” he said.
Ramesh AS, an independent activist who has followed the trail of elephant deaths since the death of elephant Saumya, who died in Kerala after consuming fruit loaded with firecrackers, set up an online petition that has garnered over 2,500 signatures.
“When the government does not have funds and facilities to rehabilitate existing sick and old captive elephants in private custody, capturing wild elephants in conflict and maintaining them in captivity is not sustainable.
“It is against the rights and welfare of existing captive elephants who need rehabilitation. The only solution we can arrive at is to address it in the wild itself,” said Ramesh.

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