•   Thursday, 25 Jul, 2024
Bangladeshs critically endangered Asian elephants get court protection

Bangladeshs critically endangered Asian elephants get court protection

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Animal rights groups welcomed the High Court suspension of all licences, so young Asian elephants can no longer be captured and taken into captivity.

Some of the animals have been used for begging, circuses or street shows.

There are now only about 200 of the elephants in Bangladesh, with about half of those living in captivity.

The country used to be one of the major homes for the Asian elephant but poaching and habitat loss has caused a marked decrease in their numbers.

Under the previous scheme, young elephants could be taken into captivity where the forestry department issued licenses to logging groups who would use the animals to haul logs. Others ended up in circus groups. Such exploitation broke the terms of the licences, the court said.

Rakibul Haque Emil, head of animal rights group People for Animal Welfare (PAW) Foundation in Bangladesh, said it was a "landmark order".

"In this name of training elephants, private licensees including circus parties brutally separate elephant calves from their mother, shackle them for months and then torture them to teach tricks," he said.

He said it was now hoped that captive elephants could be rehabilitated.

Actor Jaya Ahsan launched the legal case alongside PAW, and said he hoped it would be the end of harsh "training" that could be inflicted on the animals.

A spotlight was shone on the issue last year when a young elephant was killed by a train after being used for begging on the streets. They are often painted in bright colours and forced to perform tricks by their captors.

And in 2019 two emaciated elephants were rescued by police after being used for roadside begging.

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