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FIAPO opposes move to legalise trade of elephants | India News – Times of India

CHENNAI: The Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO) has urged parliamentary standing committee not to recommend dilution of Section 43 of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 that would legalise the trade of live elephants.
The Wildlife Protection Amendment Bill 2021 was tabled in Parliament on the last day of the winter session. The proposed amendment threatens the safety of elephants and leaves the law open to abuse, thereby opening the way for the sale of live elephants.
A petition has been started by FIAPO urging Rajya Sabha member Dr Jairam Ramesh, who is the chairman of the Standing Committee on Science, Technology, Environment, Forest and Climate Change, to stop the dilution of Section 43 of the Wildlife Protection Amendment Act. More than 28,000 concerned citizens have signed the pledge. FIAPO and other animal protection organisations have also made detailed submissions to the standing committee to protect animals.
“Any amendment to the law must take us forward. We cannot regress and roll back the protection that the law currently provides to elephants. Rather, we should take a big step forward and outlaw private ownership of elephants and surrender of the existing,” said Bharati Ramachandran, CEO of FIAPO. “We urge the government to take this step to protect the Indian elephant – a highly cognitive, perceptive, complex, and social being that must remain in the wild social herd – by stopping altogether the private ownership of elephants, and their ‘return’ to a natural habitat.”
FIAPO requested the standing committee to remove the proposed sub-clause under Section 43 that exempts elephants from the blanket ban on the sale of wild animals, and that effectively paves the way for trade in elephants. Further, FIAPO has demanded withdrawal of the proviso under Section 40 (2B) that permits the private ownership of live elephants.
Among the proposed amendments was the addition of a sub-clause under Clause 27 of Section 43 – a section that currently constitutes a blanket ban on the trade in all wild animals. The proposed sub-clause read: (4) This section shall not apply to the transfer or transport of any live elephant by a person having a certificate of ownership, where such person has obtained prior permission from the state government on fulfilment of such conditions as may be prescribed by the central government.
Thus, an exception is inserted with a new subsection (4) which has excluded live elephants from the prohibition of commercial sale under Section 43. By doing so, the proposed Bill effectively opens the way to the commercial trade in live elephants. This will legalise the sale of live elephants for the first time in 50 years.
Currently, Section 40 (2A) & (2B) allows the private ownership of elephants, the only wild animal to be legally owned by a private individual through the possession of an ownership certificate. Elephants already do not have the protection from sale that the law guarantees other wild animals. While the provision of ownership certificates is intended to cover only already captive elephants, in implementation, the law is open to abuse.
Elephants continue to be illegally captured from the wild; they are tamed with brutal training methods. The transportation of these elephants is often through trucks and trains to commercial markets; brokers then buy them to resell to private parties or individuals. Though elephants are traded, leased, rented, bought and sold, the law provided a protective bulwark to hold these smugglers and criminals in check.
Activists have been campaigning to ban the legal ownership of elephants as it encourages their illegal capture and trade, seen across India. The Wildlife Protection Act, however imperfect, is essentially a progressive law, says FIAPO. It banned the hunting of wild animals and created protected wildlife areas that have allowed flora and fauna to flourish. In addition, prohibiting commercial trade in all wild animals has played a vital role in redirecting our domestic policy away from their commodification.
The Bill currently rests with Dr Jairam Ramesh, who as the former minister of environment and forest, in 2010, commissioned Gajah, the exhaustive Indian government report on elephants that decisively recognized captivity as cruel and recommended that commercial use of elephants should be phased out. “We hope that the standing committee will thoroughly consider the recommendations of FIAPO and other animal protection organisations as well as individuals who have decades of expertise in the conservation and protection of wildlife,” it said.
FIAPO launched petition to stop the legalisation of the commercial trade of live elephants:

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