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New rules of elephants transfer UPSC NOTE

 What are the rules around the transfer and transport of elephants? 

  • Elephants are, according to the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act, a Schedule 1 species and therefore, be it wild or captive, cannot be captured or traded under any circumstances.

  • Section 12 of the Act allows Schedule I animals to be translocated for ‘special purposes’ such as education and scientific research. 

  • They can also be translocated for population management of wildlife without harming any wild animal and collection of specimens for recognised zoos/museums

  • Captive elephants because of their historical role in forest management, timber transport, presence in estates of erstwhile royal families and in temple precincts for religious purpose can be owned and therefore come under a special category

  • However, strict rules guide the transfer of such elephants. 

  • Section 40 (2) of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 prohibits the acquisition, possession and transfer of a captive elephant without the written permission of the Chief Wildlife Warden of the State

  • Until 2021, however, these laws explicitly said that such transactions ought not to be of a ‘commercial nature’. 

  • The Environment Ministry in 2021 brought in an amendment that allowed the transfer of elephants for ‘religious or any other purposes’.

  • Such a broad interpretation, activists and researchers said, could accelerate trafficking and illegal commercial transactions

  • A standing committee, led by former Environment Minister, Jairam Ramesh, opposed this section but it was passed into law.

What do the updated rules say?

  • These rules provide new relaxations under which captive elephants can change owners or be transferred. 

  • These include, for instance, situations when an owner is no longer in a position to maintain the elephant or when a state’s Chief Wildlife Warden “deems it fit and proper” to transfer the elephant in circumstances which call for better upkeep of the elephant

  • Before a transfer within the State, an elephant’s health has to be ratified by a veterinarian, and the Deputy Conservator of Forests has to

establish that the animal’s current habitat and prospective habitats are suitable

  • The Chief Wildlife Warden on receipt of such documents may choose to reject or approve the transfer.

  • If the transfer involves moving the elephant outside of a State, similar conditions apply.

  • Before a transfer is effected, the “genetic profile” of the elephant has to be registered with the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

  • Earlier rules required that an elephant being transferred from say, Assam to Gujarat would need permissions from the Chief Wildlife

Wardens of every State that the elephant would pass through in the process of being ferried by road. 

  • Now only the originating and recipient States’ permissions are required.

What do the updates mean?

  • The Wildlife Protection Act is essentially a prohibitive law

  • It puts in a variety of restrictions to curb the trafficking of wild animals. 

  • However independent researchers say that with regard to elephants the law has become lax.

  • The establishment of India’s largest private zoo in Jamnagar, Gujarat which is affiliated to the Reliance Foundation, has brought some of these questions to the fore

  • The facility, which is a rescue centre and ostensibly exists to rehabilitate traumatised and injured elephants, among other wildlife, hosts a reported 200 elephants and controversially also hosts “healthy animals,” according to a recent journalistic investigation published in the periodical Himal Southasia.

  • There are also concerns that some of these elephants aren’t captive but sourced from the wild.

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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: New rules of elephants transfer UPSC NOTE
New rules of elephants transfer UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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