TINSUKIA: At a time when people are dying due to scorching heat in north and central India, transportation of four elephants from the relatively humid temperate climate of Tinsukia district to extreme hot and dry climate of Gujarat has evoked strong reaction among several wildlife groups, including the State’s elephant and wildlife experts, even as captive and domesticated pachyderms are plentiful in Jharkhand and Kerala. The step has been strongly opposed by conservationists.
Terming the government’s move as most unethical and amounting to inhuman torture of the animals, Kaushik Bora, an elephant expert of Assam, remarked, “The present weather condition is not conducive for any mode of transport and there is no justification to parade these elephants for religious purposes under the scorching sun.”
Prof P C Bhattacharjee, a renowned wildlife biologist observed that the transportation and relocation of animals had always been very risky while mode of transportation and physical state of animals must be of prime importance and the animal should be stress-free all along its journey.
What prompted the State Government and State Wildlife Authority to accord permission to transport four elephants to Ahmedabad under adverse climate remains intriguing for the conscious circles and they believe that it was a political appeasement. According to information, the transit pass for movement of elephants has been issued by the Conservator of Forest, Jorhat after receiving concurrence from the Chief Wildlife Warden-cum-PCCF against four elephants being owned by Piyal Moran of Lakhipathar under Digboi Forest Division, Maheshwari Moran of Raidang village under Doomdooma Forest Division and Joginath Pegu of Laika under Dibrugarh Forest Division. These elephants have been requisitioned for participation in a religious parade at the inauguration ceremony of Sri Jagannath Temple at Ahmedabad on Ratha Yatra day. Though the elephants have been leased for six months, the previous reports revealed that none of the elephants leased from this district returned to the respective owners.
Meanwhile, it is learnt that the Tinsukia Railway Division of NF Railway is exploring the idea to tag elephant-carrying coaches with one of the superfast trains.