April 21, 2024

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Court Order Safeguards Endangered Bangladesh Elephants from Exploitation

Bangladesh’s wild elephants, classified as critically endangered, have been granted legal protection by a court ruling that prohibits their adoption and shields them from exploitation. The High Court’s decision to suspend all licencing activities has been lauded by animal rights organisations, effectively preventing the capture and captivity of young Asian elephants, which were previously subjected to begging, circus performances, and street shows.

With only approximately 200 wild elephants remaining in Bangladesh, half of which are in captivity, the country’s once significant elephant population has dwindled due to poaching and habitat loss. The former practice allowed young elephants to be captured and used for various purposes, including logging and circus acts, under licences issued by the forestry department. However, the court deemed such exploitation a violation of licencing terms.

Rakibul Haque Emil, leader of the People for Animal Welfare (PAW) Foundation in Bangladesh, hailed the court’s decision as a historic milestone, emphasising the brutal separation, confinement, and mistreatment endured by captive elephant calves during training sessions. The ruling offers hope for the rehabilitation of captive elephants, marking a significant step forward in animal welfare advocacy.

Actor Jaya Ahsan, who spearheaded the legal challenge alongside PAW, expressed optimism that the ruling would put an end to the cruel training practices inflicted on elephants. The issue gained prominence following several distressing incidents, including the tragic death of a young elephant struck by a train while being exploited for begging on the streets. Elephants used for begging are often subjected to painting and forced performances, highlighting the dire need for protective measures.

In a similar incident in 2019, police rescued two emaciated elephants exploited for roadside begging, shedding light on the pervasive mistreatment of these majestic creatures. The court’s intervention underscores the urgent need for comprehensive protection and humane treatment of Bangladesh’s remaining wild elephants, safeguarding their welfare and conservation for future generations.