Centenary Celebration or Elephant Circus ?
4th Feb., 2005
Billed as the 'Century's
Greatest Conservation Success Story' a huge 'Centenary
Celebration' is to be held at Kaziranga National Park
from 11 to 17 February 2005. According to the programme
on the Centenary web site www.kaziranga100.com
apart from seminars, debates and exhibitions, throughout
the one-week event there will also be "elephant
football, elephant tug of war, mock elephant capturing,
elephant joyrides, etc.".
An article that appeared on 29 January 2005 in the
Indo-Asian New Service, datelined Kaziranga and titled
'Elephants preparing for historic soccer match', says
that the elephants are already "undergoing regular
drills and practise sessions". An elephant soccer
match is described as "one of the main attractions
at the week long fest".
Many of these wild-caught elephants are undernourished
and have come from a long distance. To put them through
this sort of torture in front of an expected crowd of
50,000 people is cruel, undignified and inexcusable.
The article quotes the Field Director as saying "there
will also be a demonstration by expert mahouts on how
they catch wild elephants, besides elephant races and
mock fights for the crowd". Exactly... for the
crowd. This noble animal - which will be forced to relive
perhaps the most traumatic event of its life - deserves
more dignity than this.
As for the elephant who "can play the drum with
perfect rhythm, while another can write a few English
letters with chalk on a blackboard using his trunk",
this appears to be an advertisement for a circus.
We have written to the Centenary management pointing
out that the Kaziranga Centenary Celebration is an important
milestone for conservation in India, and not a circus.
We have requested them not to turn the event into an
exploitive exercise for an endangered species that they
strive so hard to protect in Kaziranga National Park.
If you wish to write to the Kaziranga Centenary management
in protest, the email address is email@example.com.