• Don Lichterman

Moving Giants, Priyanka is safe, Removing Arya's Last Symbol of Slavery, Elephant in the Room!

Elephant Translocation Documentary Moving Giants Wins Big At Wildlife Conservation Film Festival

Network for Animals’ elephant translocation documentary, Moving Giants, has won Best Wildlife Conservation Film at the 10th annual Wildlife Conservation Film Festival (WCFF), held in New York in November 2020.

Moving Giants is a dramatic and emotional South-African-produced documentary that tells the story of the capture and translocation of Tembe and Sundu – two rare giant tusker elephant bulls identified for a critical task.

Elephants at Addo either have small tusks or none at all because all the big tuskers in the Addo area were hunted out more than a century ago. Tusks play a vital role for elephants. They use tusks to protect their sensitive trunks, to forage and dig, and for attracting females. NFA pledged to help Addo’s elephants get tusks back, and thus a mammoth translocation plan was set in motion.

Network for Animals (NFA), together with South African National Parks (SANParks), began the massive task of moving Tembe and Sundu from the Tembe Elephant Park, in KwaZulu-Natal, to Addo which is 1,600 kilometers away, where they would breed and reintroduce the gene for big tusks.

Highly specialized teams and technology came together to track and dart the massive creatures. But, even with the best team and the best technology, things can go seriously wrong. At the end of two long days, only one bull made the journey to Addo, while the other had to be released back to his capture site after the darted giant responded negatively to sedation.

During the ground-breaking 11-minute long documentary – directed by Joanna Higgs, presented by Luke Barritt, and produced by GoTrolley Films for NFA – viewers were on the edge of their seats as they watched the team’s colossal efforts and compassionate approach to ensure the survival of elephants in Africa.

“Winning this award marks an incredible achievement for all of us at NFA. It is also a tribute to every one of our supporters who have placed elephant conservation across Africa on the highest priority list. Moving Giants is just one example of how the generosity of the human spirit is working to protect and conserve vulnerable animals,” said David Barritt, executive director of NFA.

“As a South African, I am also immensely proud of the fact that this award demonstrates that our film makers can compete with the best in the world and win.

I would also like to personally thank Jo Higgs and the team at GoTrolley Films for helping portray the work NFA does in such a professional, powerful and creative way.”

Barritt said that Moving Giants emphasised the importance of elephant conservation. “Elephant populations throughout the continent are in crisis with numbers plummeting 90% in the past century and by a third in the past 20 years alone. Voracious poaching continues despite a near-total ban on trade in ivory. Tragically, 20,000 elephants are slaughtered each year – an effective rate of one every 30 minutes. More elephants are poached than born putting this exquisite species in very real danger of extinction. Unless something changes, elephants will disappear in the next few decades. Elephant conservation efforts have never been more important than they are right now and we will never stop working to protect them.”

Director Jo Higgs added that her and her team were delighted by the recognition the documentary has had. “’This award means a lot to the team at GoTrolley Films,” she said. “Directing the film was really a privilege. Network for Animals does incredible work for animals around the world and we were very proud to be able to craft a story that made some of that important work more visible.” Be A P{art of this Now

Jai spent the past 40 years walking thousands of miles in chains throughout Punjab, to Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, and finally to Rajasthan. His painfully infected wounds have rendered him immobile and nearly lame. He desperately needs immediate medical care at our Elephant Hospital, but we need your help first. Due to this criminal neglect and unthinkable cruelty, the Forest Department has seized the poor elephant. They are giving us an opportunity to mount a rescue operation and bring him to safety and provide lifetime care. Jai needs compassionate people like you to stand up for him when no one else will. Because his condition could become critical, we’re trying to rescue Jai in record time. Our goal is to have him in the Elephant Ambulance and on his way to freedom no later than Thursday. Will you please help Jai now?

Mahima Sharma - Indian Laws Protecting Elephants

India boasts of a rich cultural heritage and has one of the strongest laws of the land that prevent the abuse and exploitation of animals. It is the law which accords the revered position of the National Heritage Animal of the country to the Asian Elephant! By all means, the Asian elephant is granted the highest protection, legally, and as a Schedule I protected species of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. There is an absolute prohibition on the poaching, trafficking and trading of elephants, inviting a hefty fine and incarceration of up to 7 years.

Once captured from the wild, elephants can never be reintroduced to the wild again. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, clearly lays down the laws that protect the elephants in India. The State Forest Department works actively in each state to protect the forests and wildlife and become the first responders in the case of any untoward incident that involves wild animals.

When an elephant is owned illegally, the State Forest Department has the authority to order the immediate seizure of the elephant and rehabilitate the elephant to a recognised elephant camp for long-term care and treatment. However, when an elephant is legally owned and there are reports of ill-treatment and abuse, then the Forest Officers, after inspection of the condition and a complete medical check up, decide on the subsequent confiscation and rehabilitation of the elephant.

PROJECT ELEPHANT The Government of India has further established Project Elephant under the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change (MOEFF&CC) to monitor and regulate the welfare of both wild and captive elephants. Project Elephant was established in 1992 with the overarching aim of providing technical assistance to the protection and management of the population of wild elephants in India.

On the occasion of World Elephant Day this year, Project Elephant released a detailed report on the best practices for management of human-elephant conflict in India. The report laid down the details of how various new practices have been introduced to make sure that the human-elephant interactions are effectively controlled.

  • The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, was amended in 2002 and banned the sale of captive elephants which were not registered with the Chief Wildlife Warden of the State. If an elephant is owned without being declared, the Forest Department has the authority to cease the elephant on the grounds of illegal ownership.

  • Section 9 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 talks about the prohibition of hunting of the animals listed under Schedule I, II, III, IV. The elephant is a protected species under Schedule I and so is the sloth bear! Hunting of animals listed under these Schedules will invite heavy punishment and incarceration of up to 7 years.

  • Section 40 (2) of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 prohibits the acquisition, possession and transfer of a captive elephant without the written permission of the Chief Wildlife Warden of the State.

  • Section 42 reinstates that the Ownership Certificate can be issued to the person who has the lawful authority of the captive animal listed under Schedule I and II.

  • Section 48 (b) clearly states that no wild animal under Schedule I and II can be captured, sold, purchased, transferred and transported unless the Authorised Officer does not certify the lawful possession of the same.

  • Section 40 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, also talks about the mandatory issuance of Transit Permit (TP) by the State Forest Department when an elephant is being transported from one state to another. Additionally, TP has to be issued by each state from which the elephant will pass through including the state in which the elephant will be finally going to.

LOOPHOLES: The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, makes the exception of live elephants being “gifted” or “inherited” to people, wherein the owner has 90 days to declare this “inheritance” to the Forest Department. This clause is misused by elephant owners involved in illegal trafficking and exploitation of elephants, which allows the trade to flourish.

There are state-recognised Elephant Camps where elephants are cared by the Forest Department. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

As a responsible citizen of the country, it is very important to know the important laws that protect India’s elephants from brutal captivity and keeps their numbers steadily growing in the wild, where they rightfully belong. Captive elephants can never be reintroduced to the wild as they are forced to lose their wild spirit after being subjected to repeated thrashings, starvation and torture to be “controlled” by humans, all through their life. Additionally, these elephants are repeatedly beaten to be disciplined and end up with severe physical and psychological scars.

Each elephant on the roads, in the temples, in the entertainment and tourism industry has been illegally poached from the wild. These elephants are isolated, restrained and fed an unhealthy diet that increases the risk of pulmonary and gastrointestinal diseases. Brutal captivity also causes severe psychological trauma, and they suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder that is characterised by constant head bobbing and swaying and is termed as “stereotypic behaviour”.

If you love elephant, you will never ride them! Be a part of the change and visit www.refusetoride.org and sign the petition!

Removing Arya's Last Symbol of Slavery

One of the most fulfilling aspects of a successful rescue is the removal of the bell from an elephant. Most elephants in India used in the tourism, recreation or begging industries are forced to wear a bell, an age old practice that was used to alert people to the presence of the elephant on a crowded street.

Arya joined the Wildlife SOS elephant family this past summer. The blind and traumatized elephant has made steady progress as she becomes more comfortable with her new surroundings. The removal of her bell is a symbolic celebration of her newfound freedom. Join us in a moment of joy and reflection for Arya!

Priyanka is safe and living in peace

And, for more than 40 years Priyanka spent her days on the busy streets begging for scraps at the hands of her cruel owner. She was forced to give rides for money, even as her feet were burned on hot pavement and her back was deformed by a heavy saddle. Losing all hope, Priyanka faced constant fear of beatings, traffic, hunger, and chains. GIVE TO SAVE INDIA'S WILDLIFE

Once she arrived at Wildlife SOS, Priyanka’s many physical injuries were treated, but the emotional damage she suffered still haunts her. Priyanka is now well cared for, is loved, and lives in peace and safety at a Wildlife SOS sanctuary, thanks to compassionate people like you.

Please support Wildlife SOS and our mission to rescue and help elephants in need. With your help we can save more elephants like Priyanka! Don’t wait, please give today! What you give today will impact who we can save tomorrow

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