Kathmandu, 24 September 2014 – Animal Nepal’s campaign against the smuggling of elephants from India by the safari industry recently booked a success. On the occasion of World Elephant Day, the Warden of Chitwan National Park, Mr Kamal Jung Kunwar, spoke out against the illegal trade, and said action would be taken against those involved.
According to a report by the Chitwan Post, ‘[b]ringing elephants from any other nations is illegal and if any entrepreneurs are found doing so then actions will be taken against them.’
In Sauraha alone 60 captive elephants are employed in the safari industry. Almost all elephants are bought across the border; until recently annually on average seven Indian elephants were traded from India to be employed as safari elephants. Among them are blind, underaged, overaged and sick elephants.
The report says: “According to Mr. Kunwar in the new rule and regulation for the management of the elephants, import from India has been mentioned as illegal. In the wildlife conservation Act 2029 it has been mentioned that import of elephants from other nations is illegal but even so the local entrepreneurs have been bringing the elephants from India. Elephants are important for the conservation of other wildlife like tigers and one rhinos as well.” To read the full report in Nepali click here.
Indian authorities have been lobbying with the Nepal authorities to stop the illegal trade. They stepped up their vigilance after in 2010 five Indian smugglers were arrested in Assam who captured elephants from the wild and tamed them before selling them off to buyers in India and Nepal. Apart from an increase in wildlife trade, the Indian government is further concerned about the spreading of Tuberculosis, which affect the population in Nepal, to Indian captive elephants as well as the mistreatment of safari elephants in Nepal.
In December 2013 Indian parliamentarian Maneka Gandhi wrote to Director General of Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, requesting him to stop the illegal trade in elephants across the border.
Update November 2014:
Warden Kamal Jung Kunwar, author of Four Years with the Rhino, and introducer of the chain free project for government elephants, has warned the Baghmara and Kumroz bufferzone committees to limit the number of elephants for safari rides and the number of working hours. If not action will be taken to preserve the forest environment. In his letter to Baghmara Bufferzone Committee, Mr Kunwar reminds the members that maximum 50 elephants can be used for tourism and they can only work from 6:30 to 10:00 in the morning and from 1:00 to 4:30 in the evening. Kunwar: “It has been observed that more elephants are being used and that they are made to work beyond the mentioned time limit. The animals need to be provided with space to rest, graze, walk and search for their food without destroying the forest environment. Related action will be taken for any act that will impact the forest environment, according to the Buffer Zone Regional Management Code of Conduct 2052 rule no. 21 (7).”