To, 4 March 2017
Shri Naveen Patanik,
The Chief Minister of Orissa
Office of the Chief Minister
Grievance Cell, Qrs No VIII-DS-I,Unit-V,
Subject: Urging immediate and stringent action against harassment of wild elephants in Athgarh forest division.
I write to you on behalf of the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO), India’s apex animal protection agency. As the collective voice of the animal protection movement in India, FIAPO is the catalyst which protects the interests of animals on local and national levels. Created for the movement, by the movement, FIAPO is India’s only national federation with 77 members and over 200 supporter organisations nationally.
We have been recently informed about the outrageous harassment of herds of wild elephants in the Khuntuni range of Athgah forest division, less than 50 km Bhubhaneshwar. The video depicting mobs of men heckling, brandishing sticks, chasing and throwing objects at the herds makes us severely concerned for the safety of both the elephants and the people.
Speaking for all our member organisations, we condemn this behaviour towards our national heritage animal. Sir, kindly be informed that the elephant is accorded the maximum protection under the Wildlife (protection) Act, 1972, and such behaviour is a violation of Section 2 (subsection 16), punishable with a jail term of up to seven years.
We are informed by conservation leaders who have worked in the Athgarh region for many years that the natural habitat of these elephants has been devastated and they live as refugees, in constant search of food and shelter.
This being the situation, we appeal to you to address the situation with utmost urgency, before there is a tragedy. We strongly suggest the following steps-
- Direct the local police and district administration at Cuttack to ensure immediate dispersal of crowds with instructions to allow peaceful passage to elephants henceforth.
- Direct the Chief Wildlife Warden and DFO Atgarh to initiate habitat restoration, watershed management, restoration of the Chandaka-Dampara Wildlife Sanctuary, and to secure and revive its corridors to the Kapilash Wildlife Sanctuary and the Satkosia landscape in the state.
I trust that Orissa, which proudly calls itself the Soul of Incredible India, will ensure compassionate treatment of its elephants, which have also been one of the principal attractions to visitors from afar.
Senior campaign manager, FIAPO
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