BENGALURU: The People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), India, has joined hands with the Bannerghatta Biological Park (BPA) to create a fenced forested sanctuary that will allow elephants to roam about freely and live as nature intended.
The 49.5 hectares space is home to 16 captive elephants, including an abused temple elephant Sunder, who was relocated last June from Kohlapur on the apex court’s order.
Designed by PETA consultant and elephant expert Carol Buckley, a solar electric fence and a state-of-the-art emergency corral made of steel pipes are nearing completion.
Wildlife experts opine that elephants, being highly intelligent and social animals, spend almost 18 hours per day walking, feeding, bathing and interacting with other pachyderms. So when they become captive, they are subjected to a lifetime of confinement, boredom, loneliness and abuse.
PETA CEO Poorva Joshipura said, “With the freedom to engage in natural behaviour within a large, open space to call their own, Sunder and his new family have the opportunity to thrive. We hope the sanctuary will act as a model for elephant sanctuaries throughout Asia.”
Elephant expert Margaret Whittaker, who designed the elephant and mahout training facilities and safety measures, will also have a role to play.
Whittaker will train local caregivers in the principles of protected contact, a method of ensuring safe interaction between human beings and elephants by keeping them separated by a sturdy barrier and using positive reinforcement techniques instead of the age-old routine of physical punishment to manage the elephants.