Assam team to visit Tamil Nadu to inspect captive jumbo’s condition

Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma took the decision after a meeting with senior police officials

September 02, 2022 01:56 am | Updated 03:01 am IST - GUWAHATI

The alleged ill-treatment meted out to Joymala has triggered an outcry among wildlife activists and animal lovers in Assam. Photo: Twitter/@PetaIndia

The alleged ill-treatment meted out to Joymala has triggered an outcry among wildlife activists and animal lovers in Assam. Photo: Twitter/@PetaIndia

GUWAHATI

The Assam government has decided to send a four-member team to Tamil Nadu on Friday to inspect the condition of Joymala, an adult female elephant allegedly being tortured at a temple in the southern State.

The decision was taken after Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma held a meeting with top Forest Department officials on Thursday evening.

Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Hirdesh Mishra has been nominated the leader of the team that will visit Tamil Nadu, an official statement said.

The other members of the team are Kushan Kumar Sarma of the College of Veterinary Science under the Assam Agriculture University, Aparna Natarajan, the Superintendent of Police of Morigaon district and Rupjyoti Kakoti, the veterinary and animal husbandry officer of Tinsukia district.

The team will discuss the matter with representatives of the Tamil Nadu government and the Forest Department there to pave the way for the return of Joymala to Assam.

Joymala was leased out to the temple in 2008, reportedly for six months, by an individual from eastern Assam’s Tinsukia district. The Tamil Nadu government manages the temple trust.

The alleged ill-treatment meted out to the elephant has triggered an outcry among wildlife activists and animal lovers in Assam.

There are several cases of domesticated elephants leased out or transferred by owners of the animal to temples in southern and western India. But these invariably are not returned.

Assam-based environment activist Rohit Choudhury had in February 2020 complained to the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change against the illegal transportation and smuggling of wild and domesticated elephants from assam to other States “with the involvement of the office of the Chief Wildlife Warden of Assam”.

He also said the Assam Forest Department declined to provide him information on the number of permissions given by the Chief Wildlife Warden for the transfer of elephants to other States.

“The fact is that the Chief Wildlife Warden, who is the custodian of the State’s wildlife, doesn’t have any information on how many elephants have been transferred out of the State or brought back into the State and there is no mechanism to systematically document the captive/domestic elephants speak volumes about the nexus between the elephant smuggling syndicate and the forest officials of the State,” he wrote.

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