The Indian government has banned elephants from entering Mumbai city to prevent the incidents of cruelty to these animals and minimize the possible threat of transmission of contagious diseases like tuberculosis and anthrax to humans.
According to a report in the Open Magazine, the elephants with a valid ownership certificate were earlier allowed in the city. But, recently, after the death of a street elephant in the city and the increasing protests, the authorities banned their entry completely.
“This has been a long-standing plea by many activists. After reports of ill-treatment kept trickling in, we realized that we had to do something about it,” said Suresh Thorat, the additional principal chief conservator of forests (Wildlife), according to the magazine.
“An injured and abused animal is not just wrong. It also poses a danger to citizens,” Thorat added, who passed the directive.
The Mumbai city witnessed protests when a 58 years old female elephant, named Bijli, collapsed on the road. Reportedly, the harassed animal was suffering from obesity, degenerative joints, and osteoporosis. The report highlighted that just a few years ago, the animal was made to walk some 100 km from Mumbai city to Alibaug to bless a couple at a wedding. The animal fell into ditch on the way back.
Shakuntala Majumdar, the president of the Thane chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said in the Open report that elephants are brought to the city from various states because this is where a lot of money can be made.
“They are given insufficient amount of water, fed all sorts of junk food like vada-pav, and not given an appropriate shed. We once encountered an elephant that was being housed in a dilapidated public urinal,” Majumdar said in the report.
India has a long history of domesticating this giant mammal and traditionally it is domesticated for religious, cultural, and labor purposes. In modern era the animal is also used for entertainment and rides in cities. According to the Corporate Document Repository by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, India is home to Asia’s 50 percent wild and 20 percent captive elephant population.
Thorat said a dense city like Mumbai is no place for elephants. Many animal rights activists including PETA India have been long campaigning to ban the entry of elephants into Indian cities.
“Just like you cannot have a tiger or wolf in a city, you can’t have an elephant,” Majumdar said in the report.