The Environment ministry has set up a new set of guidelines for the safety and care of captive elephants. A bath every day, rest for 12 hours after travelling for the same period of time, medical check-up twice a year, proper housing and retirement at the age of 65 years.
The state governments have been asked to conduct fresh survey of all captive elephants in six months and install microchips on them. Only elephants with microchips would be allowed in captivity. The rest would be taken over by the state forest departments. The guidelines give six months to the elephant owners to get the animals registered with the forest department.
The guidelines also stipulate the care that needs to be taken in case of illness or injury to elephants.
For healthy elephants, the government has detailed the work depending on their height and area where they are working. Elephants less than 1.50 metre high cannot be engaged for carrying load. For others, load has been specified as per their height.
Violation of the guidelines would amount to cruelty to animals. Keeping an elephant chained for long hours, keeping a calf away from the mother would amount to cruelty. And, the owner can be punished under wildlife laws for it.
But then, these guidelines are a cause for a lot of discomfort for the animal lovers. If there are guidelines for elephants, why not such regulations for horses, buffaloes or other animal engaged in work, they wonder.