While elephants in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane have been banned, the owner of two elephants recently placed an order for shoes to be worn by his animals during film shoots. Shabhashankar Pandey owns two elephants Lakshmi (45 years) and Rupa (30 years).
Asharam Waghmare, the Borivli based cobbler, was paid Rs 40,000 to make these shoes for Pandey’s elephant. Pic/Nimesh Dave
He placed a custom order for shoes to be worn by an elephant, with a Borivli-based cobbler. The reason? They would look good when the animal would be used in film shoots. Pandey approached Asharam Waghmare, the cobbler, last month and gave him a month’s time to deliver the shoes. Waghmare was paid Rs 40,000 for the job Rs 10,000 for each foot.
The shoes are made of buffalo leather of ace quality, due to which the footwear will be in good condition for a long period of time, explains Waghmare. Many parts of the shoes, like the soles, were specially brought from Solapur; some were purchased from Kurla.
The shoes of the hind legs measure 20”x 14”, while those for the front legs measure 18”x18”. The product is ready and only the job of painting them is left. They will be painted black, with a brown border. Waghmare has been in this profession for the last 45 years and is a specialist in making a variety of special shoes. He has also made shoes for the physically challenged.
When asked about the order, Pandey clarified, “I know elephants are banned in the city and we can’t use them for shoots. These shoes are to safeguard my elephant’s legs.” When asked which of the two would wear the shoes, he said, “The measurements for both animals are the same. I will have to decide which one will use it. Both are like my children. It is only due to concern for their health that I bought such shoes. I can’t afford such equipment for shoots and shows.”
K P Singh, chief conservator of forests, Thane said, “The law clearly states that the animal isn’t allowed in the state and this will not be tolerated. We had allowed him to keep the animal, as elephants can only be controlled by their mahouts. I will now send my team on Thursday (today) and catch him red-handed. He cannot go against the law any more.”
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.’