• Wednesday, February 28, 2024

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Bangladesh court steps in to save its wild elephants

Only 200 wild elephants left in Bangladesh, half of them are in captivity (Representative image: iStock)

By: Vibhuti Pathak

Bangladesh’s critically endangered wild elephants have received legal protection from the High Court, which has issued an order banning the adoption of these elephants and safeguarding them from exploitation.

The court’s decision suspends all licenses, preventing the capture of young Asian elephants for purposes such as begging, circuses, or street shows.

With only around 200 Asian elephants remaining in Bangladesh, half of them living in captivity, the country has witnessed a significant decline in their numbers due to poaching and habitat loss.

Previously, the forestry department issued licenses allowing logging groups to capture and use young elephants for hauling logs, while others were exploited in circus performances, violating the terms of the licenses.

As logging and agriculture expand into elephant habitats in the northern and southeastern hills of the country, young elephants are often captured. The forestry department has historically granted licenses to logging groups, allowing them to use elephants for hauling tree trunks.

Additionally, circus groups have obtained licenses to adopt these captured animals.

Rakibul Haque Emil, head of the People for Animal Welfare (PAW) Foundation in Bangladesh, described the court order as a “landmark” decision. “In this name of training elephants, private licensees including circus parties brutally separate elephant calves from their mother, shackle them for months and then torture them to teach tricks,” he said.

Actor Jaya Ahsan, who initiated the legal case alongside PAW, expressed optimism that the court’s decision would put an end to the harsh training inflicted on these animals. Last year, the issue gained attention when a young elephant, used for begging on the streets, was killed by a train.

Elephants are often painted in bright colors and forced to perform tricks by their captors. In 2019, police rescued two emaciated elephants used for roadside begging. Animal rights activists said the suspension would end often brutal training — known as “hadani”.

The court order is seen as a crucial step in protecting the remaining Asian elephants in Bangladesh and preventing further exploitation and harm to these endangered animals. (With inputs from BBC)

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