Gods in Chains
The book Gods in Chains was commissioned by the WRRC as an attempt to offer insight and solutions into the existing living and training conditions of captive elephants. The book highlights the often desperate condition of India’s captive elephants – in private ownership, temples, forest departments, zoos, and circuses.
Gods in Chains opens a new chapter in the process of devising and implementing better management and welfare practices for captive elephants. The book serves as an easy guide for students, policy makers, animal welfare activists, bureaucrats, and virtually any individual who would like to make a difference in the lives of these great wild creatures with whom humans have forged a deep and abiding relationship.
WRRC was awarded the Proggy Award by People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PeTA) for the book, Gods in Chains by Rhea Ghosh for the Social Cause Book of the Year 2005.
Project Captive Elephant: Elephant survey in Karnataka and India by WRRC & CUPA
Captive elephants have been an integral part of India’s religious culture, but in the past few years, this idea has been exploited more for its commercial value, resulting in horrific training and keeping conditions. Our data collection has provided information that needs to be translated into technical and scientific reports to help monitor, change and maybe even ban keeping of elephants in captivity. There are currently no welfare standards for housing, feeding and keeping of elephants and the publications should help to spread awareness and knowledge on the subject.
The Captive Elephant Project was initiated in February 2005 by the World Soceity of Protection of Animals (WSPA), UK. The first three years were spent in data collection in a designed questionnaire which was handled by trained volunteers, specifically identified and trained for this critical activity. The 13 states covered were Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, Assam, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Punjab, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh. Karnataka was covered 100%, while in others the sample sizes researched are statistically significant.
Reports brought out as a result of the survey, have already been used by the Forest Department for confiscations, court cases and policy papers. WRRC & CUPA initiated background work for legal cases, using material from these reports. A team from WRRC & CUPA met the Principal Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forests, New Delhi on the issue of banning elephants in circuses. The entire report is available at http://cupabangalore.org/ElephantsInCaptivity.htm There have been requests for the circus study to evaluate elephants in circuses abroad and reports presented at conferences have been very well received
Follow up activity on the survey
In June 2008, a well attended and represented workshop was held in Bangalore under the auspices of the Project Elephant (PE) Directorate, New Delhi WRRC & CUPA. It brought together experts in the field as well as Chief Wildlife Wardens from different states, to discuss the various issues pertaining to captive elephants, especially in terms of their keeping, housing, feeding and welfare. The issue of illegal transfers between States was also deliberated. The proceedings of this workshop have been brought out in the form of a publication which has been sent to PE and few other Departments. The Director PE, has requested State Forest Departments to acquire a copy of the proceedings. Currently, WRRC has requests from 10 States of India for copies of the report since it has been perceived as a knowledge document on elephants in captivity.
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