FAQ on the ‘Precious Four’ Elephant Rescue

June 25, 2016 | By wildlife@dmin

1. Where are the Precious Four elephants right now?

The precious four elephants are under Interim-custody of Rambo Circus as per the Court Order.

2. I am worried about the precious four. Are you able to keep an eye on them?

Yes, we will do our very best to keep an eye on the elephants from afar and through undercover informants.

3. Please explain the technicality of which the circus was given back the elephants?

The Court passed an Order in favor of the Circus only on the basis of;

  1. Circus claimed the elephants as their property on the basis of the Ownership Certificates held by them.
  2. The Hon’ble court did not consider the offences committed on the animals by the Rambo Circus and the fact that the Circus was found guilty and in violation of various orders and guidelines of the CZA and the AWBI.
  3. The Hon’ble court did not consider that the animals are protected under relevant provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

4. Explain what laws the circus was breaking that allowed you to rescue the elephants in the first place?

Rambo Circus was evaluated by the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) and Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) both of which are autonomous bodies of the Government of India. During these evaluations the circus was found to be in violation of several guidelines for the upkeep, welfare and care of the animals. The circus was served written notices by the Central Zoo Authority in 2012 (four years ago) after which there were hearings. Suffice it to say several opportunities were given to the circus to correct themselves. When no improvement was seen in subsequent years, the Central Zoo Authority issued written directions in April 2015 to the Chief Wildlife Warden of Maharashtra to confiscate the elephants and rehabilitate them. The Animal Welfare Board of India similarly sent directions to the District Collector of Pune in April 2016 to take action in this matter and seize the elephants and rehabilitate the animals. It was on the basis of these very strong orders that the elephants were rescued in the presence of Police, Forest Department and Animal Welfare Officers.

5. How does the decision impact the other animals? The horses and dogs?

The decision adversely impacts all the animals; all elephants, horses and dogs were taken back by Rambo Circus to serve their commercial interests following the court orders.

6. Why couldn’t you hide the elephants when you knew the circus was coming to get them? Then appeal like Mohan’s owner has been doing?

It would be a wrongful act to disobey the orders of the Hon’ble Court so we tried reasoning out with Rambo Circus staff and the Officers involved on the gravity of the Elephants health condition but despite our several requests to give us time in handing over the infirm Elephants, even after pleading with  them for several hours explaining the health condition of the elephants and that they were under Medical treatment and were in no state to be shifted from the facility, the Investigation Officer and the circus staff paid no heed and forcibly took custody of the poor elephants.

7. What happened exactly when the circus people/staff came to take the elephants?

A large hostile group of people from the circus arrived with trucks. Our teams held them off for almost 8 hours and kept stalling them for as long as we could, but eventually the situation became too dangerous to sustain. Taking help of the court orders that gave legal and interim custody, the circus people took the elephants away. Our team was devastated and very upset as we had worked round the clock for several weeks to provide the elephants medical treatment and help get them on the road to recovery.

8. Why can’t we just buy the elephants from the circus?

We understand that this seems like a simple solution to saving these elephants, but there are many reasons why buying them is not a viable option.
a. We don’t want to put money in the hands of someone who has shown a willingness and ability to exploit and abuse animals.
b. It would set a very bad precedence, and will make it difficult to rescue elephants in future.

9. What are the next steps to get the elephants permanently freed?

Our next steps will be by taking legal recourse. We will keep you updated as we move forward with the next steps.

10. What can we do to help?
There are many things that you can do to help. Here are just a few of them:
a). Let your voice be heard! Sign our petition at: https://www.change.org/p/chiefminister-maharashtra-gov-in-four-reasons-to-cry-rescued-elephants-being-forced-back-into-circus?recruiter=495528&utm_source=petitions_show_components_action_panel_wrapper&utm_medium=copylink
b). Become an elephant ambassador – help us spread the message and share our petition on your Facebook and social media. Get your family and friends to sign and share it and also contribute.
c). Contribute to the Wildlife SOS public education campaign and the elephant legal defense fund to protect elephants.
d). Be relentless; so that decision makers know that we are not going away and elephants need protection.
e). Never, ever pay to see an elephant perform in any capacity / circus and never ride an elephant. These activities directly create demand for elephants being poached from the wild and cruel training practices.

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