Release Rakesh Elephant from Kapilash Zoo, Odisha

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Odisha Forest Department,
Project Elephant &
Central Zoo Authority


Rakesh tusker was caught from the wild during January 2020 in Odisha and moved to Kapilash Zoo in Dhenkanal District.

He was tied with chains on all 4 legs. He constantly tried to free himself from chains which resulted in deep wounds on his legs. It was also shocking to know that Kapilash zoo was only recognized as a small zoo and it was valid only till 23rd of August 2018. Being not recognized as an Elephant Rescue center from Project Elephant and Central Zoo Authority, how can they catch wild elephants and torture like this?

The Wildlife Protection Act 1972 says


[38-I. Acquisition of animals by a zoo.—(1) Subject to the other provisions of this Act, no zoo shall acquire, sell or transfer any wild animal or captive animal specified in Schedules I and II except with the previous permission of the Authority.
(2) No zoo shall acquire, sell or transfer any wild or captive animal except from or to a recognised zoo.]
38J. Prohibition of teasing, etc., in a zoo.—No person shall tease, molest, injure or feed any animal or cause disturbance to the animals by noise or otherwise, or litter the grounds in a zoo.]

As per a RTI reply received from Project Elephant of MoEF said that they do not have any information regarding the permission of capturing the wild tusker Rakesh, which shows that the Odisha Forest department has disobeyed the above WPA Rules.

No actions were taken even after sending multiple email petitions to Odisha Forest Department, Project Elephant and Central Zoo Authority requesting them to release the tusker back to wild or move to an authorized sanctuary.

There was one more wild elephant caught from Jajpur, Odisha and died in April 2020 with similar wounds on legs due to chains. The tusker was kept in Chandaka Wildlife Sanctuary which was not even listed in CZA website.

Meanwhile Rakesh condition was improving but back in May 2020 another news report came that he was not keeping well again.

After so many months of torture and pain, psychologically disturbed Rakesh became furious and he was moved to Kraal last month for breaking the spirit.

Now the Dhenkanal Forest department is planning to train Rakesh and use him to capture other wild elephants (Kumki) and bring them to the same Kapilash Zoo. The cruel training (breaking of spirit and forcing to learn commands to deal other wild elephants) is being planned to do with the help of mahouts from Kerala or Assam.

Now they have confined him in a kraal (an enclosure), with no space to even move freely. They feed him very less food and water, so that he is always hungry and tired. This way they can make him surrender to the commands of the humans. This is like breaking his spirit, to make him a man’s slave.

When the Government does not have enough funds and facilities to rehabilitate existing sick and old captive elephants across the country, capturing new elephants from the wild and maintaining them in captivity is not a good idea. The conflicts have to be addressed in the wild itself.

Requesting authorities to stop this cruelty to Rakesh elephant and release him immediately.