After the recent deaths of four elephants who were used for tourist rides in Jaipur, the India chapter of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), recently fired off a letter to Rajasthan Chief Secretary Rajeev Swarup, requesting him to order a thorough probe into the incidents.
In its letter, PETA India Chief Advocacy Officer Khushboo Gupta said, “Please test all captive elephants in Jaipur for TB and introduce a policy to prohibit bringing any new captive elephants into Rajasthan. These important subjects were raised with the office of the chief wildlife warden of Rajasthan in a letter dated August 6. However, no action has been taken so far. Since March this year, four elephants (numbers 24, 64, 99, and 132) who were suspected of suffering from TB have died,” she said in the letter.
The letter further asked the Rajasthan government to investigate and report the actual cause of death of the four elephants and prevent any new elephant from contracting TB. It also sought a policy decision under Section 40(2) of the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA) prohibiting the entry of any new captive elephants into Rajasthan and strict legal action against violators under Section 51 of the WPA.
Meanwhile, in a press note, PETA India said, “Two of the four elephants (numbers 99 and 64 – Rani and Chanchal, respectively) that died had tested reactive for tuberculosis (TB) in 2018 during an investigation by the government body Animal Welfare Board of India but were questionably declared TB-free later by the Rajasthan Forest Department. We made multiple requests to the Rajasthan Forest Department to test all elephants in Jaipur for TB and to quarantine and treat those who are sick,” it said further.
“Just as the Rajasthan government has taken steps to address the healthcare challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, it must protect the public from another deadly zoonotic disease – tuberculosis. It’s high time the Rajasthan government implemented a policy decision to end dangerous elephant rides,” said PETA India’s press note. The warning which emerges from the incident: TB can spread from elephants to humans, just as Covid-19 is thought to have first jumped the species barrier through wildlife.