Declaration of the Rights of Elephants


When, in the course of history, it has become clear that human beings are neither the center of the Universe nor the only worthy beings on this planet, it becomes necessary to extend the protection afforded by personhood to living beings other than human beings, thus fostering a peaceful co-existence among all living beings as well as respect for their inherent value and life.

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the inalienable rights of all sentient beings is the foundation of a healthy and balanced environment and a world without human-animal conflict;

Whereas it is necessary for the recognition of the basic rights of animals to ensure they have a dignified life and to avoid their being abused and neglected in the utilization of shared resources and habitats;

Whereas, specifically, the disregard and contempt for rights of elephants have resulted in barbarous and unjustifiable atrocities being committed on them with utter neglect towards their suffering, thus necessitating the enforcement of such rights as the elephants inherently deserve while equally inheriting this world with other living beings and being stakeholders in the future of our planet;

Whereas human beings massacre free-living elephants for their tusks, skin and body parts, and arbitrarily and systematically on a large scale capture them from their natural habitats and enslave  them for commercial, and private uses, resulting in loss of historic migration routes of elephants, loss of their shared knowledge and traditional wisdom integral for their long-term survival, loss of opportunity to mingle with other populations for their species survival and enormous casualties by being hit by trains, poisoning, and  electrical lines;

Whereas, those elephants that have been kept captive for use by humans for entertainment in zoos and circuses; for religious rituals or for offering rides to tourists have their well-being

severely compromised by being subject to extreme control by means of inflicting extreme abuse to develop fear psychosis in them;

Whereas such life lacks dignity, and an opportunity for the elephants to enjoy the natural world they were born into;

Whereas it is important to promote a harmonious and a compassionate relationship between human beings and elephants;

Whereas it is recognized that elephant societies are heavily dependent on cultural transmission and that elephants have social behaviors and interactions similar to humans such as nurturing young ones, building kinship, altruism, hierarchies, and grief;

Now, therefore,

We, the people, recognise the inherent value that the Elephant has and hereby proclaim this Declaration of the Rights of Elephants:

Elephants possess the right to a dignified life

Elephants feel pain and suffering and are masters of their own will. It is recognized that human beings are not the owners of their lives and cannot deprive them of their right to life and freedom. Moreover, life does not mean mere existence but a quality or dignified life and human beings cannot deprive elephants of their dignity.

Right to bodily liberty, integrity, and autonomy

Recognition is given to the fact that elephants possess autonomy of acts and thereby are beings of their own will who have the right to liberty and hence must have access to environment where there is freedom to express, without external hindrances, their true personalities and achieve, to the fullest, their natural zest for freedom and growth.

Right against commercial exploitation, torture, cruel and degrading treatment

Human beings are not the masters of nature and for a peaceful coexistence, it is imperative to ensure that no elephant is held in slavery or servitude or made to suffer arbitrarily for the personal or collective gains of human beings.

Right to the physical and mental well-being

It is essential to also provide an environment which promotes healthy physical and mental well-being for elephants and human beings cannot, for self-interest, harm the environment over which no individualistic claim can be made by one species.

Right to interact and socialize with other elephants

Elephants are social beings and hence have the right to interact and socialize, in a natural manner, with others of their own species.

Right to equal consideration of interests

In case the above rights might conflict with the rights of other humans or non-humans, the conflicts will have to be resolved based on the principle of the equal consideration of interests.

We, the people, proclaim to undertake, as individuals and as organs of a common society, a step forward in the direction of promoting the interests of animals and to that effect, promote the rights and freedom of elephants by progressive measures.

August 2018, New Delhi, India

Declaration supported by:

  1. Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO) through Varda Mehrotra, Executive Director
  2. Vivek Menon, Founder, Trustee, Executive Director, and CEO – Wildlife Trust of India
  3. AJT Johnsingh, Distinguished Wildlife Biologist
  4. Peter Singer, Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics, University Centre for Human Values, Princeton University, and Laureate Professor, School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne
  5. S. Chinny Krishna, Co-founder, Blue Cross of India
  6. Surendra Varma, Research Scientist, Asian Nature Conservation Foundation
  7. Suparna Ganguly, Honorary President, Wildlife Rescue, and Rehabilitation Centre and Co-Founder Trustee, Compassion Unlimited Plus Action
  8. Anjali Gopalan, Founder and Executive Director, Naz Foundation
  9. Avdhash Kaushal, Chairperson, Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra
  10. Paola Cavalieri, Co-Founder, The Great Ape Project
  11. Kuntal Joisher, Passionate Vegan and Mountaineer
  12. Christine Townend, Co-founder, Working for Animals
  13. Anand Jacob, Trustee, Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre
  14. Colonel Dr. Navaz Shariff, General Manager, and Chief Veterinarian, People for Animals Bangalore
  15. Gautam Sonti, Filmmaker
  16. Nirupama Sarma, Co-Founder, and Filmmaker
  17. Siddhartha K Garg, Co-Founder, and Director, Angel Trust
  18. Aashray, Jaipur
  19. Aashray for Sick and Helpless Animals
  20. Action for Protection of Wild Animals (APOWA)
  21. All Creatures Great and Small
  22. Alliance of Animals and People
  23. Amma Care Foundation
  24. Angel Eyes
  25. Animal Aid Charitable Trust
  26. Animal Birds Nature Foundation
  27. Animal Care Land Society
  28. Animal Friends Welfare Public Society, Thane
  29. Animal India Trust
  30. Animal Shelter, Agonda
  31. Animal Welfare Association, Panchkula
  32. Animal Welfare Society
  33. Animal and Plants Welfare Trust (APWT)
  34. ARTH Foundation
  35. Association for Service and Healing of Animals (ASHA)
  36. Bark India Charitable Trust
  37. Bharti Foundation (Wordly Wags)
  38. Blue Cross of Hyderabad
  39. Blue Cross of India
  40. Bombay Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BSPCA)
  41. Casper’s Home Trust
  42. Charitable Welfare Society for Humankind and Animals
  43. Compassion Unlimited Plus Action (CUPA)
  44. Compassionate Living
  45. Compassionate Society for Animals
  46. Darjeeling Animal Shelter
  47. Daya Muvattupuzha
  48. Dharamsala Animal Rescue Trust
  49. Foundation for Animals
  50. Goa Animal Welfare Trust (GAWT)
  51. GOAL (Group of Animals Lovers) Foundation
  52. Gujarat SPCA
  53. Help in Suffering
  54. Humane Animal Society
  55. In Defence of Animals
  56. Indian Canine Upliftment Centre (ICUC)
  57. India Project for Animals and Nature (IPAN)
  58. Indian Society for Human-Animal Welfare
  59. Indian Vegan Society
  60. Institute of Jeevakarunyam and Research
  61. Blue Cross of India
  62. Bombay Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BSPCA)
  63. Casper’s Home Trust
  64. Charitable Welfare Society for Humankind and Animals
  65. Compassion Unlimited Plus Action (CUPA)
  66. Compassionate Living
  67. Compassionate Society for Animals
  68. Darjeeling Animal Shelter
  69. Daya Muvattupuzha
  70. Dharamsala Animal Rescue Trust
  71. Foundation for Animals
  72. Goa Animal Welfare Trust (GAWT)
  73. GOAL (Group of Animals Lovers) Foundation
  74. Gujarat SPCA
  75. Help in Suffering
  76. Humane Animal Society
  77. In Defence of Animals
  78. Indian Canine Upliftment Centre (ICUC)
  79. India Project for Animals and Nature (IPAN)
  80. Indian Society for Human-Animal Welfare
  81. Indian Vegan Society
  82. Institute of Jeevakarunyam and Research
  83. People for Animals, Hyderabad and Secunderabad
  84. People for Animals, Kollam
  85. People for Animals, Morena
  86. People for Animals, Odisha
  87. People for Animals, Odisha (Nayagarha)
  88. People for Animals, Patna
  89. People for Animals, Raipur Unit 2
  90. People for Animals, Sirohi
  91. People for Animals, Trivandrum
  92. People for Animals, Uttar Dinajpur
  93. People for Animals, Wardha
  94. People For Cattle in India (PFCI)
  95. Plant and Animal Welfare Society - Mumbai
  96. Plant and Animals Welfare Society (PAWS)
  97. Prayas Team Environment Charitable Trust
  98. RAKSHA
  99. Ramaiya Charitable Foundation
  100. Resqink Association for Wildlife Welfare (RAWW)
  101. Samabhava
  102. Sanctified Terra for Rueful Animals Society (STRAY)
  103. Sansthanam – Abhay Daanam Charitable Bird Hospital
  104. Saare Jahan Se Acha
  105. Save Animals Value Environment
  106. Save Our Strays
  107. Seva Samarpan Foundation
  108. SHARAN
  109. Shree Karuna Foundation Trust
  110. Society for Animal Welfare
  111. SPCA Noida
  112. Spreading Awareness on Reptiles and Rehabilitation Programme (S.A.R.R.P)
  113. Stray Relief and Animal Welfare (STRAW)
  114. Tails of Compassion (TOC)
  115. Thane SPCA
  116. The CJ Memorial Trust
  117. Tibetan Animal Lovers
  118. Tinku Memorial Trust
  119. Tree of Life for Animals (TOLFA)
  120. Vets Beyond Borders India Charitable Trust
  121. Vishnu Charitable Trust
  122. Welfare for Animals in Goa (WAG) Trust
  123. The welfare of Stray Dogs
  124. Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre (WRRC)
  125. The world for All Animal Care and Adoptions
  126. World Veterinary Services India (WVS)
  127. Save Animals Value Environment
  128. Save Our Strays
  129. Seva Samarpan Foundation
  130. SHARAN
  131. Shree Karuna Foundation Trust
  132. Society for Animal Welfare
  133. SPCA Noida
  134. Spreading Awareness on Reptiles and Rehabilitation Programme (S.A.R.R.P)
  135. Stray Relief and Animal Welfare (STRAW)
  136. Tails of Compassion (TOC)
  137. Thane SPCA
  138. The CJ Memorial Trust
  139. Tibetan Animal Lovers
  140. Tinku Memorial Trust
  141. Tree of Life for Animals (TOLFA)
  142. Vets Beyond Borders India Charitable Trust
  143. Vishnu Charitable Trust
  144. Welfare for Animals in Goa (WAG) Trust
  145. The welfare of Stray Dogs
  146. Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre (WRRC)
  147. The world for All Animal Care and Adoptions
  148. World Veterinary Services India (WVS)