International animal welfare charity, World Animal Protection has written to the Environment Minister of India, Prakash Javadekar and the Chief Minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar seeking their urgent intervention and stopping the proposed display of elephants at Sonepur Fair in Patna, Bihar.
The demand for an intervention by World Animal Protection comes following a report in the New Indian Express dated 6th November, 2019, stating 'Panel formed to ensure jumbos turn up at Bihar's famous Sonepur fair'.
In the last few years, the arrival of elephants at the fair has become almost negligible after a ban on their sale was imposed in 2000. However, this latest development is extremely worrisome.
Various organisations including World Animal Protection have worked for years to prevent the display and sale of elephants at Sonepur. It has also been observed that traders regularly misuse the exemption to elephants given under Section 40 to trade in these animals in Sonepur under the guise of gifting.
"World Animal Protection urges all concerned authorities to cancel any plans to exhibit elephants at Sonepur Fair that may aggravate the trade in elephants and cause untold suffering to captive elephants everywhere. Elephants traded in Sonepur Fair land up all over the country, including Jaipur in Rajasthan where they are held in inhospitable conditions and are used to provide joy rides. We draw your attention to the directive of the Patna High Court in October 2017 that directed the Bihar government to ensure no wild animals were traded on the premises of Sonepur Fair," said Gajender K Sharma, Country Director of World Animal Protection, India.
Meanwhile, World Animal Protection has been running a campaign to end the exemption accorded to elephants in Section 40 of the Wildlife Protection Act.
The petition has garnered support from 30,000 people till date.
"We sincerely hope the concerned authorities will not allow the display and sale of live elephants in Sonepur Fair now or in the future," he added.
The elephant is India's National Heritage Animal and World Animal Protection has been working for decades to ensure this majestic wild animal remains where they belong, in the wild.
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