The Animal Welfare Board of India, under the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, has written a letter to the State forest department seeking status and registration details of Mysore Dasara elephants. The letter also states that if details of the elephants are not provided they will not be allowed to parade at the celebrations.
The Board wrote a letter to Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (wildlife) in December 2013 and again in October 2015. They questioned the Mysore Dasara elephant parade and during other festivals in Karnataka.
The letter points out that the elephants are not registered with the Board under the Performing Animals (Registration) Rules, 2001. All animals which are used for parade and other such paid events come under the ambit of animal performances and hence, need to be registered with the Board.
“The animals which are used for parading clearly fall within the ambit of the definition of performing animals and using the animals for the aforesaid purpose without registration is an offence. It is noted from our records that the animals which are being used are not registered and their valid ownership certificates issued by the wildlife department have not been received by the Board,” the December 2013 letter read.
The letter of October 2015 cited the recent order of the Supreme Court (writ petition between Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre and others versus Union of India and others) dated July 14, 2015. It termed the act of using elephants for Dasara as a cruelty.
“The Board has, earlier in December 2013, written to the Forest department regarding the registration of elephants used in Dasara and other festivities. Thus, it is requested to register the elephants with the Board as per procedure immediately, failing which the parading of elephants and celebrations cannot be permitted under the law.”
Reacting to this, M Madana Gopal, the Additional Chief Secretary to the Forest, Ecology and Environment Department, told Deccan Herald that there was no violation in the use of elephants for Dasara. Using elephants is a decision of the Cabinet and it has been happening for decades. A due reply will be sent to the Board at the earliest.