In conclusion, it may be said that the provisions relating to
ownership certificates are the most confusing and the least
understood parts of the WPA-1972. This has resulted in a
strange situation where a large number of domesticated
elephants have neither been provided with ownership
certificates nor confiscated by the Forest Department for
violation of the law. Available information indicates that
there are only about 1 300-1 400 domesticated elephants
with ownership certificates in India and that accounts for
about 48 percent of the eligible elephants. In Tamilnadu
and Delhi, the percentage of privately owned elephants
having ownership certificates is above 80 percent. Assam
is reported to have issued as many as 703 (63 percent)
ownership certificates but it is doubtful that all these
certificates are in conformity with the provisions of the
WPA-1972. Circus elephants are mostly covered under
ownership certificates. There are many instances when
Forest Officers, who feel more comfortable with the Forest
Acts than with the WPA-1972, have issued transit permits
in lieu of ownership certificates for elephants sold by them
to persons, circuses or temples.

A few more points regarding registration of elephants merit
attention. The form for the ownership certificate has not
been designed with the elephant in mind. Hence, it may not
be possible to identify the elephant on the basis of the
scanty information given in the ownership certificate. The
Act does not provide for periodic renewal of ownership
certificates to ensure recording of the current
measurements and features of the elephant. Moreover,
provisions of the Act relating to affixing identification marks
on the elephant have not been followed. In fact, not much
thought has been given to developing a convenient, cost
effective and socially acceptable method of marking
elephants.

Organizations and their major projects

State Forest Departments (SFDs) have a double role to
play as regards domesticated elephants: employer and
regulator. All states having wild elephants, except Mizoram
and Manipur, employ captive elephants. In states like
Orissa and Madhya Pradesh, almost all the domesticated
elephants belong to the SFD. In some states, SFDs also
own some of the zoological parks having elephants. By
and large, the SFD elephants are properly looked after.
There are rules and orders for maintenance and care of
these elephants. Wildlife Wings of the SFDs headed by the
CWLWs are responsible for enforcing the provisions of the
WPA-1972 relating to domesticated elephants. Bihar
Forest Department plays an important role in organising
the annual elephant fair at Sonepur. The SFD in
Karnataka also helps in organising an elephant procession
during the world famous Dushera fair at Mysore. Forest
staff are frequently called upon to control tuskers owned
by circus or private individuals when they go berserk or
come in musth. After the ban on the commercial capture
and trade in elephants, the occasional capture of wild
elephants by the SFDs is the only source of new
domesticated elephants in India.



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