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Mumbai’s last privately-owned elephant dies

The elephant, named Laxmi, was around 50 years old.

mumbai Updated: Jan 26, 2018 15:34 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,mumbai news,elephant
Laxmi the elephant

Mumbai’s last privately owned elephant, called Laxmi, died on Thursday morning at Dahisar (East).

Members of Plants and Animals Welfare Society (PAWS-Mumbai) were informed the about the animal’s death around 7am. “We had been tracking the condition of the elephant for a while, and informed the forest department immediately,” said Sunish Subramaniam, secretary, PAWS-Mumbai.

While the forest department was unclear about the exact age of the elephant, officials said the animal was around 50 years old. “Our team rushed to the spot and took stock of the animal’s death. Though the animal was around 50 years, we need to conduct a post-mortem to ascertain the exact cause of death. Since a post-mortem is not allowed at a residential area, a crane was used to transport the elephant onto a truck and moved to Kora Kendra at Naigaon, Vasai,” said Jitendra Ramgaokar, deputy conservator of forest, Thane forest range. “Owing to massive traffic jam on the way, our team could not reach Vasai before sundown. Now, the post-mortem will be conducted on Friday.”

He added that the owner Rama Shankar Pandey, 50, kept the elephant in a shed within residential setup near Mulchand Yadav Chawl in Dahisar (East). “As per our information, two elephants were brought from Bihar in late 1990’s, and ever since used for various events in the past. The forest department had renewed the ownership certificate of the elephant in 2015 but after repeated attempts by Pandey to transport the animal, no transport permit was issued by us for over a year,” said Ramgaokar. “There are no elephants now kept privately in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region.”

Elephants are listed under schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

Animal activists pointed out that the animal was being kept in deplorable circumstances even after regular intimations were made by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) discouraging the practice of keeping elephants in captivity in metro cities. “The elephant was not fed properly, was used for begging, and suffered from malnourishment. A detailed enquiry is required to identify the cruelty caused to this animal. The forest department should not register any new proposals for elephants to be kept in private,” said Subramaniam.

On October 22, 2016, HT reported that a 38-year-old female elephant Roopa had collapsed and died outside Film City, Goregaon due to gall bladder, liver stones. In 2013, 58-year-old Bijlee died in Mumbai after she was overworked and overweight. Veterinarians from Bombay Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said she was ill-treated by her owner and made to survive on junk food.

Mayur Kamath, wildlife warden, Mumbai said the elephant probably died on Wednesday night itself. “Elephants in captivity, especially metropolitan cities, are not taken care of. Elephants should not be kept in the middle of the city with heavy pollution and vehicular movement. Owing to the difference in food being given to elephants in captivity and that they would naturally find in the wild, the lifespan drastically reduces with cases of malnourishment and other health ailments,” he said.

Meanwhile, Pandey refused to comment when HT contacted him.

First Published: Jan 26, 2018 00:26 IST