Guwahati High Court questioned Assam’s Chief Wildlife Warden Ranjana Gupta on Monday about her knowledge regarding the Supreme Court’s order in 2016 against the transfer of elephants and if she had taken note of it before clearing transit for four juvenile elephants from Assam to Guwahati for a religious event.
A division bench comprising of acting Chief Justice Arup Kumar Goswami and Justice Manish Choudhary sought clarifications from the Centre while hearing separate petitions filed by Kerala-born Canadian Sangita Iyer and Guwahati-based NGO Avinava Prayash. The Centre was asked for clarification with regard to the Supreme Court’s interim order in 2016 which prohibited the transfer of elephants outside a state by their handlers.
The four elephants, are two females named, Joytara and Rani and two males named, Babulal and Rupsing. The oldest elephant among these is only nine years old.
Wildlife activists argue that these juvenile elephants will not be able to survive the heatwave on their journey, which be in a metal railway wagon over the course of 3,106 km from Tinsukia in Assam to Ahmedabad.
The petitioners argued that the elephants will face adverse climatic conditions during their train journey and even stated that unlike Tamil Nadu and Kerala, Assam does not have framed rules for the management and maintenance of captive elephants under Section 64(2) of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
It was also brought to the notice of the bench that none of the elephants transported outside of Assam on a temporary basis have been returned till date.
The case is scheduled to come up for hearing again on Tuesday.