Elephants replace bulldozers in Assam; PETA irked

From Our Special Correspondent

 New Delhi: Elephants are often used as beasts of burden in the country, however, using the jumbos in place of bulldozers to evict illegal occupants in some areas of Assam recently has drawn flak from the People or the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

Forcing the animals to ram into concrete and iron is a violation of Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and reflects total disregard for the welfare of the nation’s heritage animal, the PETA said in a statement.

“Under Section 11 (PCA Act) any person using an animal as a beast of burden will be booked under the Act,” the PETA said.

The government focus should not only be on protecting forests, but also the animals which reside in it. This can be done by ensuring that they are not deliberately forced into acts that could cause them injury, distress and pain, the PETA statement added.

The jumbos are hired from local owners to act as bulldozers to demolish the shack-like homes that dot the North East. The hilly terrain of the region makes it impossible for bulldozers or any large demolition vehicles to enter the areas concerned. The fact that human demolition squads sent to do the job are chased away also makes the elephants the obvious choice to execute the task.

There are more than a thousand domesticated elephants in the North East. Earlier, they used to carry timber in the mountainous regions. But ever since they have been banned from doing so, their owners have put them out to rent.

Other animal welfare organisations have also been up in arms against the Forest Department’s decision to use the endangered animals for eviction purposes.

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