Tourists to India have frequently filmed blatant violations of elephant welfare laws by disreputable tour operators. This abuse portrays India in a very negative light around the world, impacting tourism throughout the country. The Asian elephant is recognised as the National Heritage Animal of India, worshipped and revered in the rich culture of India. The elephant also receives the highest degree of protection under the Indian law (Wildlife Protection Act 1972) wherein there is complete prohibition of capturing, hunting, trading and trafficking of elephants. There are many blind, lame, geriatric and injured elephants that continue to be abused for the ruthless tourism industry. Officials must act now to enforce India's strong elephant protection laws!
The concept of honorable retirement has been employed for the companion animals police and armed forces in India, but elephants continue to be exploited for tourism and entertainment. Blind, lame, geriatric and injured elephants deserve an honorable exit from their punishing life and the harsh routine of tourist rides in all seasons and weather, on varying terrains. They deserve retirement into elephant camps where the Forest Department and NGOs can together provide medical care and rehabilitation to these geriatric elephants while also becoming destinations for responsible tourism. Such retirement and rehabilitation centres would happily be visited by tourists and serve as a sustainable alternative method of employment for the elephant owners and mahouts. Officials must act now to enforce India's strong elephant protection laws!
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