Thursday, 18 August 2011

Elephant polo cancelled after protest

JAIPUR: A global campaign by animal right activists has led to cancellation of the day-long prestigious elephant polo tournament scheduled on Sunday and slated to be witnessed by who's who of the corporate world at the Rajasthan Polo Ground here.

The main sponsor of the event - Carlsberg India Pvt. Ltd. - withdrew on Tuesday in view of the growing opposition to the event as animal right activists from across the world had launched a campaign against it. 

"We acknowledge the concern raised by you on our proposed association with the elephant polo sport. After having heard and considered all view points, raised by you and various other stakeholders, we have decided to stop our association with this event," Rishi Wadhera of the Carlsberg India Pvt. Ltd. PR & Communications wrote to the founder chairman of People for Animals (PFA), Naresh Kadyan, who was spearheading the campaign against the regal sports.

Wadhera further wrote: "While we comprehend that these specific elephants were in no way being violated, we respect the concern being raised and hence, have decided to do the right thing."

Animal right activists consider elephant polo just another way of deriving "sadistic" pleasure by humans in watching the captive jumbos in excruciating pain, for nothing but entertainment of mankind.

"We sought intervention from the President of India and the government of Rajasthan through letters signed by animal activists from across the globe after which the polo match was canceled," Kadyan told TOI on Wednesday. 

Elephant polo 2006

He said around 450 animal right activists from more than 80 countries had signed the letter seeking cancellation of the match. Letters were sent to the Chief Justice of India, Union minister for environment and forest (Jayanthi Natrajan), National Advisory Council (Sonia Gandhi, chairperson), Union law minister, Vice President, Ainimal Welfare Division director, Dr. Anmol Kumar, and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

In the letter, Kadyan had stated, "It is with a lot of pain, torture and abuse that a captured wild elephant is made ready to play the game/sport of 'elephant polo'. I was shocked to learn about 'Carlsberg Elephant Strong presents the Polo Cup - Unique Sporting Experiences on August 21 2011 in Jaipur'."

Further, the PFA chief has narrated in his letter that elephants do not naturally ride bicycles, stand on their heads, balance on balls, jump through rings of fire, or play polo. "In order to force them to perform these confusing and physically uncomfortable tricks, elephants are typically trained with extremely cruel methods that inflict pain and cause fear. Supporting the barbaric practice of forcing elephants to entertain tourists will only tarnish your company's reputation. I hope that you will take action on this important issue."

Elephants are now a national heritage animal of of the country and protected under Scheduled I of the Wild Life Protection Act, 1972. Former Union minister for environment and forest Jairam Ramesh had introduced a scheme titled, "haathi mere saathi", a campaign to conserve elephants.

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