In September, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals group posted videos of a captive elephant named Joymala allegedly being beaten up by a handler at a temple in Tamil Nadu.The Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department refuted the allegations that the elephant was mistreated, but the debate sparked by these videos highlighted the challenges involved with regulating captive elephants.
Under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, elephants are categorised as a Schedule 1 animal – on par with tigers – but yet, can be held captive legally. Instead of addressing this anomaly, the Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2022, which is awaiting Rajya Sabha clearance, will only serve to further exploit elephants through a newly inserted exemption.
This provision, in Section 43(2), introduces a separate set of terms and conditions to be formulated by the Central government to regulate captive animals. The bill was passed by Lok Sabha on August 3.
The initial draft of the bill had created an exemption for elephants under Section 43, which regulates the transfer and transport of scheduled animals. This drew heavy criticism as it encouraged the commercialisation of elephants by permitting their trade.
The Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment, Forest and Climate Change, under the chairmanship of Congress…