PETA India asks Health Ministry to quarantine TB-infected Elephants at Amber Fort
New Delhi: Animal rights body PETA India has asked the Union Health Ministry to quarantine elephants infected with tuberculosis in Rajasthan's Amber Fort and screen all untested jumbos who are "forced" to give rides to tourists, as the disease can spread from animals to humans.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India said the move came after a report by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) revealed that at least 10 of the 91 captive elephants used for rides and other tourist interactions in Jaipur are infected with tuberculosis (TB).
Post-mortem reports of four elephants which died within a period of five months last year, indicate that most of the animals had been suffering from respiratory diseases possibly including TB and had heavy internal loads of parasites, PETA India said.
The AWBI report also states that elephants in Jaipur are particularly at risk of contracting TB because of routine transportation within the city, interaction with tourists that may expose them to infected humans or other elephants, it said.
The report states that the risk of contracting TB can also be because of stress factors, including painful restraining methods, extreme confinement, unclean water, inconsistent food supply and poor nutrition, the animal rights body said.
"We hail the vision of the Prime Minister to eliminate TB in India by 2025 but it can't be done by ignoring the captive elephants who suffer from TB and can potentially infect humans.
"PETA India is calling on the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to take swift action to protect both travellers and the sick, suffering elephants who are being denied much-needed veterinary care, putting everyone at risk," PETA India Associate Director of Policy Nikunj Sharma said.
The animal rights body said according to recent scientific studies, there is a high prevalence of TB infection among captive elephants, buffaloes and cows in this country.
It is also reported that approximately nine per cent of all TB transmission is from animals to humans and the percentage is even higher among children, the body said.
The Rajasthan government is currently not providing any treatment or care to elephants who have tested positive for TB and it is failing to screen other elephants for the disease, putting tourists and anyone else who comes in contact with these jumbos at risk of contracting the disease, PETA India said.