NEW DELHI: In response to Lok Sabha clearing the Wild life (Protection) Amendment Bill 2022 with certain problematic clauses, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals stated that darkness has fallen on elephants of the nation as this representative of Lord Ganesha is no longer sufficiently protected from wild capture and enslavement.
The group points out that the very intent of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, as highlighted in the title is to “protect” wildlife flora and fauna. With Lok Sabha passing the Bill in this form, elephants, a Schedule I animal who should be afforded the highest level of protection will now be permitted to be commercially traded and exploited, something that has been globally condemned.
The Bill under Clause 27 will allow any person with a valid ownership certificate to sell an elephant to a person or institution for a religious or any another purpose. The “any other purpose” appears to have a limitless meaning, thereby potentially increasing the demand for illegal capture of these animals in the wild, followed by cruel training in kraals—small, dark wooden enclosures—through which elephants are jabbed with ankushes (hooked iron weapons) and hit with sticks in order to break their spirits.
“At a time when countries, citizens, and the honourable courts of justice around the world are increasingly making decisions against keeping intelligent animals in captivity, this amendment in law sends our country back to the Dark Ages,” says Director of Advocacy Projects PETA India, Khushboo Gupta. “PETA India will continue our efforts to bring relief to elephants suffering in cruel captivity and to protect them in nature, as the Constitution of India which mandates that Indian citizens have compassion for animals make it our duty to do so.”
Earlier, in its letter to Prime Minister Modi, PETA India had appealed to withdraw Clause 27, as it would encourage the illegal capture and commercial trade of elephants in India, defeating conservation efforts in their natural habitat. The group also warned that the amendment may increase cruelty to elephants in captivity and promote institutionalised corruption, as illegitimate ownership certificates would be used to conduct trade.
The Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2021 was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change on December 17, 2021. The Bill amends the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972. The Act regulates the protection of wild animals, birds and plants. The Bill seeks to increase the species protected under the law, and implement the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Key features of the Bill include: