Please put your signatures and speak out on behalf of captive elephants on the streets of Mumbai, the gentle giants suffering silently in our midst, for a suitable place to rest their tired feet and tortured spirit.
A year after the agonizing death of Laxmi, the captive Mumbai elephant hit by a truck on the road in 2006, a ban was placed on elephants plying the streets of Greater Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai. Consequently, a few of them disappeared from the city but others stayed on and can often be seen begging in the middle of heavy traffic and crowded markets.
Leading an unnatural life, these magnificent creatures, underfed and dehydrated, have to walk for miles on hard concrete roads in extreme weather conditions with their cracked and injured soft feet pads, ankles and legs. Even when they are rested, it is in the most pitiable conditions under flyovers and near dump yards. With no health records available, their physical and mental condition is uncertain and it is even doubtful if their owners possess a license to keep them.
Apart from collecting alms, they are hired out for lucrative festive occasions as the elephant is a highly revered animal, in whose image Lord Ganesha is worshipped by people. Surrounded by the cacophony of festivities, crowds, traffic, firecrackers and loud music, a potentially dangerous situation is often created for the unfortunate elephant and the public alike.
All this goes on regardless of the imposed ban. The police and the forest officials seem to be helpless since there is no place to keep these huge animals even if they are rescued. Among the many good proposals to build a rescue and rehabilitation centre, one was fully supported and granted initial approval by the then state minister for Environment and Forests in 2007. However, once he left the ministry, the project was put on the back burner and has stayed there.
The proposed rescue centre was planned near Tilari Dam in the Sindhudurg District of Kolhapur, an ideal location with good rainfall and vegetation and surrounded by four villages. It was to be promoted and developed as an eco tourism destination which would in turn create employment for local villagers as well as offer protection to the elephants. A similar sanctuary has been proposed in the Shahpur forests on the outskirts of Thane.
There is a crying need for the rescue of the long suffering captive elephants of Mumbai and rehabilitate them in a suitable place to live in peace and dignity.
We are writing to you for the rescue and rehabilitation of the captive Mumbai elephants that live in pitiable conditions in the city and are often seen begging on the road in all kinds of weather, traffic and unfavourable conditions.
Despite a ban being instituted by the Maharashtra government in 2007 on elephants plying the streets of Greater Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai, nothing can be done by either the Police or the Forest Department as there is nowhere to house rescued elephants in the city.
Subjecting these animals to an unnatural and stressful life of begging and participating in crowded, noisy festive situations in the city, their owners take advantage of the highly revered status of the elephant in the minds of people. Without proper permissions, health checks, food and shelter, these gentle giants have not only become a target of cruelty and exploitation but could also be an unintentional threat to human life and safety.
Among the various proposals made by concerned citizens and organizations for a rescue and rehabilitation centre in the state, an eco tourism based plan for the mutual benefit of elephants and people, was given the initial approval by the then state minister of Environment and Forests in 2007. However, even after five years, the proposal has not been taken forward.
We earnestly urge you to take early action for the rescue of the captive Mumbai elephants, and create a suitable refuge for these animals to spend the rest of their lives in peace and dignity.
In Defense of Animals, India