Noted animal rights body Heritage Animal Task Force (HATF) has criticised Travancore Devaswom Board for trying to register an 86-year-old "retired" elephant as the oldest living captive jumbo in the Guinness Book of World records.
HATF Secretary V K Venkatachalam has sent a letter to the Project Elephant director at the Centre, alleging that Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) does not have the certificate to prove the ownership of the jumbo, 'Dakshayani', which is a violation of the law.
TDB, which manages a number of shrines including the famous Sabarimala Ayyappa Swamy Temple, recently felicitated the jumbo here and initiated steps to make its entry into the Guinness Book of World records as the oldest surviving Asian elephant in captivity.
As per the Wildlife Stock Declaration Rule 2003, it is the statutory responsibility of every person living in India to declare any elephant in his custody for obtaining ownership certificate between the time period of August 18, 2003 and October 18, 2003, he said in a letter, a copy of which was released in the media.
TDB had not done anything to obtain such ownership certificate at that time, Venkatachalam said.
Not only that, TDB was also parading Dakshayani at many places to convince the public and the press that it is the oldest captive elephant in Asia, the letter claimed.
"The wildlife protection act 1972 specifically states that every captive elephant above the age of 65 must be kept out of any elephant parade for any celebration," he said.
"Such a retired elephant must be kept inside a shelter- shed having specifications mentioned in the Kerala Captive Elephant Management and Maintenance rule 2012. Here, TDB has failed to arrange these facilities for all the 33 elephants in its custody including Dakshayani," the letter said.
The HATF also asked the Project Elephant director to issue strict orders to the TDB, refraining from making an entry of Dakshayani's name into the Guinness Book of world records.
"Because, keeping an elephant without having ownership certificate for the past seven decades is a Wildlife Crime which invite a fine of Rs 25,000 and rigorous imprisonment of seven years," the letter added.
According to TDB, Dakshayani was gifted to the TDB by the erstwhile Travancore royals. The elephant is presently housed in the Chengalloor Mahadeva Temple in the city.