Despite a long and glorious tradition of domesticated
elephants, there have been no systematic and conscious
efforts in India to sustain this tradition. Domesticated
elephants have been ignored both by the wildlife experts
and the livestock experts. Most of the legal restrictions on
private ownership of elephants were not intended, but are
consequential to the inclusion of the Asiatic elephant in
Schedule-I of the WPA-1972. Provisions of the WPA-1972,
PCA-1960 and various rules made under the said Acts
were never framed with the elephant in mind and, as such,
they suffer from various inadequacies and flaws. Some
restrictions like the requirement of ownership certificates
for elephants could be utilized to improve the condition of
domesticated elephants if the Forest Departments could
enforce these provisions effectively.

There is also an apprehension that much of the traditional
knowledge and skill available in India will be lost unless the
demand for and the utilization of domesticated elephants
are kept alive. It is important to understand that the
management of domesticated elephants is complementary
to that of wild elephants. It will be ironical if the option of
capturing and utilising surplus or problematic wild
elephants is given up simply because of some illogical
provisions of the law. It makes better sense to take steps
to stop the abuse of domesticated elephants rather than
ban domestication. An elephant owner should be
presumed a potential conservationist unless proved
otherwise. It is desirable that the energy, experience and
goodwill of thousands of elephant keepers in India is
channelled into efforts designed to promote the
conservation and welfare of elephants.

It is possible to utilize modern techniques and scientific
knowledge to prevent unnecessary cruelty associated with
the capture, training and handling of elephants. Demand
for domesticated elephants will have to be created and
sustained by careful planning. It is also possible to give
suitable training to elephants to prepare them for new jobs
and new avenues of employment. At the same time, there
is an acute need for a large work force of trained mahouts
and veterinarians to take proper care of the large fleet of
captive elephants that currently exists.


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