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SC notice to Rajasthan on stopping elephant rides in Amer Fort

The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notice to the Rajasthan government on a plea for prohibiting the use of elephants in the Amer Fort and the Elephant Village for joy rides and exhibitions and to protect them from the cruelty they were being subjected to.

A bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Prafulla C Pant issued notice on an application by Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre seeking direction to the Rajasthan government’s chief wildlife warden, to immediately put a stop on the use of elephants in the Elephant Village and the Amer Fort for rides and exhibition.

Seeking that no new elephant be allowed to enter the state for commercial use, the applicant has sought direction to the Rajasthan government and the chief wildlife warden for proper upkeep of captive elephants and to proceed against those found to be treating them in violation of the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960, and rules framed under it.

The Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre has urged the court to direct that the elephants that are handicapped or are of old age should be retired mandatorily from work and the costs of maintaining these should be borne by the owners or by the Rajasthan government.

Drawing attention of the court to the appalling instances of cruelty being meted out to the elephant, the petitioner said that 130 captive elephants in Jaipur are used to ferry tourists in the fort in Jaipur from 7.30 a.m. to 11.30 am.

About 50 of these elephants live in Hathigaon, or the elephant village, which is supported by the Rajasthan government and funded by the central government, and the remaining are kept in different private sheds in the near vicinity.

The court was told that these elephants are “subjected to intense and relentless physical and mental cruelty and are made to live in extremely poor conditions”.

“Elephants are made to work tirelessly in the scorching heat without any readily available access to water for them to drink. Almost all of these elephants have injuries due to use of metal ankush, chains with metal spiked hobbles and clamps and some female elephants have holes drilled in their tushes to fix heavy artificial tusks,” the centre told the court.

The court was told that the health and well-being of the elephants was being totally disregarded and they suffer from painful infections, back swelling, injuries and also show symptoms of depression.

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