Recent reports suggest that, on average, seven elephants are traded from India to be employed as safari elephants each year. This is despite existing rules and regulations for the management of the elephants prohibiting the import of these animals from India. Under the wildlife conservation Act 2029, the import of elephants from other nations is illegal, in recognition of the threats the trade poses to wildlife conservation and disease transmission.
Of equally great concern is the treatment of the elephants once captured- they are forced to endure profound cruelty and brutal training rituals, during which the elephants are tied up, with no food and water, and beaten relentlessly, often using primitive instruments such as bamboo sticks with metal nails embedded in the ends. Many of the elephants traded are reported to be blind, young calves, old or sick, with an estimated 20% suffering from Tuberculosis.
Evidence has revealed that elephants at safari camps are routinely underfed and overworked, and suffer from a variety of injuries and health conditions, including saddle wounds, feet problems, and severe handicaps. With no retirement facilities for working elephants in Nepal, the future of these elephants is bleak unless urgent action is taken.
There is mounting international concern for the conservation of wild elephant populations, and for the welfare of animals kept in captivity, requiring urgent action to curb this illegal trade which causes an immense about of animal suffering.
The Asia for Animals coalition has written to the relevant authorities, urging them to take urgent action to ensure the enforcement of existing laws and regulations prohibiting the brutal trade and treatment of elephants, and to establish appropriate regulations for existing elephant safaris so as to ensure that the animals can be provided with appropriate living conditions, husbandry and veterinary care.