An animal protection body today urged the Rajasthan government to phase out elephant rides at the historic Amer Fort in Jaipur, a day after jumbos suffering with tuberculosis were relieved of their duties.
Ten elephants, deployed at the Amer Fort to entertain tourists and give them royal rides, were withdrawn after they were found suffering from the infectious disease, which is highly contagious and transmissible from elephants to humans.
The World Animal Protection, an animal rights group, said although they welcome the Rajasthan government's decision to stop using the infected elephants, it remained fundamentally opposed to the whole spectacle of elephants offering rides to tourists in the fort.
"WAP welcomes the decision taken by the Rajasthan government to stop using ten elephants infected with tuberculosis at the Amer Fort in Jaipur. The dangers of zoonotic diseases and tuberculosis in elephants have been an integral part of our discussions with the government," it said in a statement.
The body said it has repeatedly highlighted the risks of tuberculosis in the Amer Fort elephants and elephants in captivity in various investigative reports.
"Whilst the relief offered to the tuberculosis infected elephants used for entertaining tourists is a welcome move, the WAP remains fundamentally opposed to the whole spectacle of elephants offering rides to tourists in the Amer Fort.
"WAP believes that wildlife belongs in the wild and implores the government of Rajasthan to voluntarily phase out elephant rides at the Amer Fort and develop a sustainable solution for rescued animals," said Gajender K Sharma, India country director at the World Animal Protection.
The body also said it is prepared to offer technical support in the development of a model rescue centre for the jumbos and can provide veterinary guidance for the welfare of tuberculosis affected elephants that have been taken off their riding duties.
According to reports, the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) had come out with a report which stated that elephants in Jaipur are particularly at risk of contracting TB because of routine transportation within the city, interaction with tourists that may expose them to infected humans or other elephants.
The report stated that the risk of contracting TB can also be because of stress factors, including painful restraining methods, extreme confinement, unclean water, inconsistent food supply and poor nutrition.
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