Nov 2022

The Green Mandate Ep. 7: ‘Captive Elephants in India’ in Conversation with Alok H Gupta

Thursday, 24 Nov 2022, 4:00 pm-Thursday, 24 Nov 2022, 5:00 pm

The Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy and Rainmatter Foundation invite you to the THE GREEN MANDATE EP. 7, on ‘Captive Elephants in India’ in conversation with noted lawyer and animal rights activist  Alok Hisarwala Gupta.

About Captive Elephants In India

India is home to approx 26,000 Asiatic Elephants which comprises 60% of their world population. Declared as a National Heritage Animal in 2010 by the Government of India, they face multiple threats for survival such as loss of habitats, human-elephant conflict, poaching etc. The Asiatic Elephants are also classified as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and are listed under Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 (WPA), granting them the highest protection. Yet the Asiatic Elephants are often used as captive animals for entertainment, tourism, and religious purposes. According to reports, in India alone there are 2675 captive elephants, majority of which are under private ownership.  

Presently, the commercial trade of elephants is prohibited under the WPA, 1972. Ownership of elephants is also limited to those in possession of elephants before the law came into force. The Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2022 (“The Bill”), which proposes to amend the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 (“the Act”) inserted a proviso in Section 43(2) of the Act which experts believe might adversely affect the conservation of the elephants. The proviso carves out additional exceptions for the transfer and transport of captive elephants for ‘religious and other purposes’ which is beyond the special purposes mentioned under Section 12 of the Act. This potentially enlarges the scope for capturing and exploitation of elephants for non-conservation purpose. For a detailed analysis on the legal implications of such an amendment, kindly see Discussion Paper on Captive Elephants and the Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2022 published by the Climate & Ecosystems team in August 2022.

The Bill has received parliamentary approval from the Lok Sabha on 2nd August 2022 and is expected to be debated to be tabled for approval by Rajya Sabha in the upcoming parliamentary session. 

In this episode of The Green Mandate we will be discussing the concern regarding captive elephants and their regulation in India. 

About the Speaker

Alok Hisarwala Gupta is a lawyer, activist and researcher working on Animal Rights with a background on LGBT and other civil liberties. He is the founder of the Centre for Research on Animal Rights. Alok is currently working on a documentation and research report on where the captive elephant trade and its violent abuse stands today, with the assistance of Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre, Bangalore. Previously he has worked on animal rights related issues with the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisation and People for Animals, Goa. He has taught a seminar on Animal Rights at National Law School of India University (Bangalore), National University of Juridical Sciences (Kolkata) and V Salgaocar Law School in (Goa). Alok has also practised in the Bombay High Court for over ten years. 

Alok graduated as a lawyer from the University of Bombay, with a semester at the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa; and a Masters in Law from Columbia University, New York. He has worked as a research assistant with Justice Edwin Cameron, and clerked for Justice Albie Sachs, at the South African Constitutional Court.  


24th November 2022,  Thursday, 16.00-17.00 HRS (IST)

16.00 hrs: Introduction

16.10 hrs: Discussion with Alok

16.40 hrs: Q&A Session with Audience

The event is open for all, but prior registration is recommended. You can also send your questions in advance to be considered during the live discussion to environment@vidhilegalpolicy.in. 

About The Green Mandate

The UNEP Global Report on Environmental Rule of Law observed that despite a 38-fold increase in environmental laws worldwide since 1972, the greatest challenge to environmental protection remained partial enforcement and implementation. 

India, a megadiverse country with 10 biogeographic zones and 4 biodiversity hotspots, is also the second most populous country in the world. The future of India’s natural heritage depends greatly on how we conserve and manage our natural resources and wildlife today. This not only requires the current laws to be firm, but also for the policy framework to remain dynamic and responsive to the new and emerging challenges. Further, a nuanced understanding of the implementation challenges at the ground, regularly evaluating the impact of any new amendments to the laws, attending to the neglected aspects of the regulatory framework and contemplating the drivers which influence the law and policy making are some of the critical actions which are required on part of the state as well as the civil society.

THE GREEN MANDATE provides a platform for an in-depth conversation on such issues affecting current conservation challenges and aims at developing a deeper public discourse on the law and policy aspects of it. (Watch previous episodes of The Green Mandate here).

The Climate and Ecosystems team at Vidhi is supported by Rainmatter Foundation and Sandeep Singhal