Captive elephant confiscated in Uttarakhand
The elephant confiscated in Nirmal Akhada, Haridwar

Delhi: In three different raids, a captive elephant, a python, and shells were seized in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, yesterday. Three persons have been arrested.

The raids were conducted by the Uttarakhand Forest Deparment assisted by the People for Animals (PfA) and the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI).

In the first raid, an Indian rock python, listed in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, was seized from a person in Sapera Basti (snake charmers’ colony) in Rishikesh.

The other two raids were carried out in Haridwar. About 700 shells, belonging to species listed in Schedule IV of WPA were recovered from a store in Saptsarovar area. In the third raid, a captive elephant was confiscated in Nirmal Akhada, Haridwar, as the owner did not possess any valid ownership documents.

“The owner who is currently under custody said that the elephant was purchased in Sonpur mela in Bihar about 35 years ago. The elephant was being used for various religious processions and was also a part of the latest Kumbh  mela. The elephant – a female of about 55 years – has now been shifted to Chilla Range of Rajaji National Park by the Forest Department authorities,” said Dinesh Pandey, Assistant Field Officer, WTI and Honorary Wildlife Warden, Uttarakhand.

“We are trying to have this captive elephant sent to Corbett National Park for use in patrolling and other conservation activities, as Rajaji NP already has at least four captive elephants,” said Ashok Kumar, Vice-chairman, WTI.

Recently, a captive elephant that went berserk in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, was tranquilised by Dr NVK Ashraf, Chief Veterinarian, WTI, assisting the Forest Department. The ‘owner’ too lacked valid documents supporting his ownership, so the elephant was confiscated by the Forest Department and sent to Dudhwa National Park.

“There seems to be a trend here. There is a likelihood that these elephants were captured from the wild, and the owners feigning ignorance of the law, hold them captive without ownership certificates provided by the Forest Department. To get these certificates the owners will have to prove the origin of the individual, which they cannot do, if the elephant was picked off the wild,” added Kumar.

Photo courtesy: Uttarakhand Forest Department