GUWAHATI: “…a batch of 25 sub-adult elephants from Namsai and other adjoining areas of Arunachal Pradesh are being organised for transport to an undisclosed location in Western India.”

“Their illegal capture is allegedly being regularised by issuing ownership certificates without any scientific determination of source, captive birth or DNA tests.”

This was alleged by as many as four organisations.

Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation Centre (WRRC), Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisation, Cape Foundation and Centre for Research on Animal Rights wrote a letter to the principal secretary to Arunachal Pradesh environment, forests and climate change department – Dr Sharat Chauhan in this regard.

“Alarmingly this is within five months of the controversial transfer of ten sub-adult elephants that was intercepted in Pasighat (in Arunachal Pradesh), on its way to Gujarat, and made national headlines,” the organisations alleged.

They added: “The supply of calves and sub-adults from private ownership is unlikely since elephants do not breed frequently nor easily, unless the environment is conducive. It is therefore very likely that the elephants, at least a majority of them, are wild caught and the onus of proof lies on the Forest Departments permitting this transfer to happen.”

“It is a historic truth that many communities across Eastern Assam and Arunachal follow traditional hunting practises of capturing young elephants from the wild (by driving them away from their herds) and training them for sale and transfer to serve the demand for private elephant ownership,” the organisations said.

“The captured young elephants are put through torturous training methods and then transported to different ends of the country as commodities, condemned to a life time of slavery and bonded labour,” the organisations further said.

They said: “Donating/gifting have always been another word for commercial sale, in majority of the cases, barring a few genuine ones. Hence allowing this to happen in an uncontrolled and unfettered manner is nothing short of a wildlife crime.”

“We urge you to put an end to this practice and place an immediate ban on every elephant transfer out of the North East. Arunachal and Assam cannot once again become suppliers of captive elephants for the entire country,” the organisations added.

They further stated: “Ending this will require taking the traditional communities of elephant catchers in confidence, providing adequate training and also working with them to create alternate sources of livelihood that does not depend on, what is essentially, the worse kind of animal cruelty.”

“And those captive elephants in need of rescue and rehabilitation within Assam and Arunachal must be housed in facilities within the North east, in their natural habitat. In cases, where possible, the elephants through dedicated effort must be rewilded and allowed to live a natural life,” the wildlife organisations said.

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