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Elephants are a common sight on Kerala's streets, but they could soon become a rarity, if new legal stricture are adhered to. And elephant owners in the state are not impressed.
Protesters have been taking to the streets in different parts of the state in recent days, because of recommendations made in a report submitted by the Elephant Task Force to the federal ministry of the environment and forests. The elephant owners are mostly complaining about recommendations which require them to care for elephants in a compassionate manner.
The legal implication of such a provision could mean a total ban on the parading of elephants, using them for cultural festivities, and for several other tasks that captured elephants are used for.
Incidentally, the declaration of the elephant as the national heritage animal in India has been largely welcomed by animal lovers in the country, though not so much by elephant owners.
When elephant owners protested in Kollam this week against the new legal provisions, they had planned to hold an elephant rally to brighten up their protest march, but desisted from it, apparently not wanting to land in legal trouble over such an act.
Instead, in one of the protest rallies, the organisers decorated a bull dozer to appear like an elephant and embellished it with the traditional headdress that is used on elephants, to make their point.
The Elephant Task Force report favours banning the use of elephants for commercial activity, and that means financial implications for elephant owners, whose investments run into millions of rupees.
Elephant owners point out that elephants are not merely seen in commercial terms, but are an integral feature of the state's overall culture and part of several of its religious rites.
Besides adorning religious functions, elephants are also used to welcome tourists in Kerala, as well as for adorning inaugural functions of seminars and meetings, including business meetings.



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