Madras HC directs TN govt to take call on shifting all captive elephants to rehab camps

Court directs HR&CE dept to issue direction to all temples in TN not to acquire jumbos anymore
File photo
File photo

MADURAI:  The time has come for the government to take a call about shifting all captive elephants to government rehabilitation camps, said the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court said on Monday.

The Madurai Bench in 2020 dismissed a writ petition filed by SGM Shaa alias Sheik Mohammed challenging the rejection order passed by the forest department for his request to transfer the ownership of a female elephant (Lalitha). However, the court permitted him to retain the custody of Lalitha. But, the case was taken up for hearing again after Justice GR Swaminathan came to know that the elephant was injured and was not receiving proper medical attention.

The judge recently visited Lalitha along with activists and found wounds on the jumbo’s body. He ordered the Virudhunagar district collector to take care of the animal with the animal husbandry department’s assistance. Upon its recovery, Lalitha is to be shifted to the Government Elephant Rehabilitation Camp for lifelong care and custody as the elephant is aged over 60 years. He also referred to the first bench’s directions that elephants should be no more acquired by private individuals or religious institutions.

Justice Swaminathan further said the time has come to take a call if all such elephants in captivity (both in temples and privately owned) should be shifted to government rehabilitation camps. He directed the HR&CE department to issue a direction to all the temples in Tamil Nadu not to acquire elephants anymore.

The court was informed by Prakash of the Elsa Foundation that there are suitable places in Thiruppathur and Salem districts for establishing rehabilitation camps. The Trichy MR Palayam Camp is not all that suitable, Prakash added. So a meeting between the secretary to the government, the environment and forest department and Prakash would yield a lasting solution, the judge said.

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The New Indian Express