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Wildlife Protection Amendment Bill May Spell Doom For India's Elephants, Warns PETA

The Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2022 which was passed in Lok Sabha on Tuesday seeks to enable control of invasive alien species and allow for the transfer or transport of live elephants by a person having ownership certificates in accordance with conditions prescribed by the central government.

New Wildlife Protection (Amendment) Bill 2022 a death knell for elephants?
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The Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2022, which was recently passed by the Lok Sabha, has drawn sharp criticism from animal rights organisations like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) who have called it a death knell for the country's elephants.

In a statement following the Bill's clearance, the global animal rights group said that the new bill is against the very intent of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, which was to “protect” wildlife, flora and fauna. "With the Lok Sabha passing the Bill in this form, elephants – animals included under Schedule I who should be afforded the highest level of protection – will now be permitted to be commercially traded and exploited, a practice that has been globally condemned," PETA said.

The bill that was passed in Lok Sabha on Tuesday seeks to enable control of invasive alien species and allow for the transfer or transport of live elephants by a person having ownership certificates in accordance with conditions prescribed by the central government.

The Bill under Clause 27 will allow any person with a valid ownership certificate to sell an elephant to a person or institution for a religious or any other purpose. The condition “any other purpose” appears open to wide and limitless interpretations, thereby potentially increasing the demand for the illegal capture of these animals in the wild, followed by cruel training in kraals – small, dark wooden enclosures – in which they are jabbed with ankuses (hooked iron weapons) and hit with sticks to break their spirits. 

Earlier, in its letter to Prime Minister Modi, PETA India had appealed to withdraw Clause 27, stating that it would encourage the illegal capture and commercial trade of elephants in India, which would defeat conservation efforts in their natural habitat. The group also warned that the amendment may increase cruelty to elephants in captivity and promote institutionalised corruption, as illegitimate ownership certificates would be used to conduct trade.

PETA India Director of Advocacy Projects Khushboo Gupta reacted the development, saying, “At a time when countries, citizens, and the honourable courts of justice around the world are increasingly making decisions against keeping intelligent animals captive, this amendment in law sends our country back to the Dark Ages". 

(With inputs from PTI)

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