It appears that the forest department (FD) officials are unaware of their own circular, which prohibits entry of elephants within municipal limits of Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane, as an elephant was spotted begging in Dahisar on Saturday evening. MiD DAY reader Darshan Dhoke witnessed the incident.
MiD DAY reader Darshan Dhoke said the mahout was forcing the elephant to beg
“I was on my way home, when I saw an elephant near the road leading to Dahisar railway station. What shocked me was the fact that despite orders from the FD, the mahout had entered the city limits with an elephant and was forcing the poor animal to beg. It gave an impression that the FD authorities were unaware of their own circular. Making a wild animal move in a crowded area can prove fatal,” said Dhoke, while speaking to this correspondent.
‘Need stringent laws’
Animal activists said there were loopholes in the circular, due to which elephants were used for begging purposes in cities across the state. Sunish Subramanian Kanju from Plants and Animal Welfare Society, an NGO, said, “If the elephant is being used for begging despite the ban, then the authorities must prosecute its owner at once. Rather than prohibiting the entry of elephants within municipal limits, the FD should impose a state-wide ban.”
Pawan Sharma, from RAWW (Resqink Association for Wildlife Welfare), said the tragic end of elephant Bijli was a classic case why pachyderms should be kept away from the city streets. He stated, “The poor animal was made to eat junk food and live in filthy conditions, due to which it underwent trauma and eventually died. While issuing the circular is a commendable job, the FD should ensure that it is implemented properly.”
Forest department says
Chief Conservator of Forest (CCF), Thane, K P Singh said, “The circular clearly states that the entry of elephants is completely banned within municipal limits of Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane. But, if someone has brought the animal inside and is using it for begging purposes, then appropriate action will be taken against that person.” Dahisar falls under the under the jurisdiction of the Bombay Territorial Range of the Thane Forest Department.
Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) issued a circular on October 28, 2013, stating that elephant is listed at S. No-2 in Schedule-1 of the Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act 2002. The circular reads: ‘Elephants are often brought within the city limits of Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane. These elephants are brought into the city to give joy rides, beg, entertain guests at weddings, act in serials and movies, bless and entertain guests at functions in temples and political rallies. All of these activities carried out by elephants are in contravention with the Wildlife Protection Act.’