Protesters demand punishment for use of elephants for extortion
May 18, 2023
Protestors gathered outside Bon Bhaban in Dhaka's Agargaon area on Thursday
demanding exemplary punishment for those using elephants for extortion,
condemning the Forest Department's failure to protect wild elephants.
People for Animal Welfare (PAW) Foundation, an organization working on
animal rights, organized the program, which many animal rights activists
joined showing solidarity.
The protesters were holding banners and placards with different demands
written on them, including a call for an explanation from the Forest
Department about their neglect in saving the large mammals.
A train struck and killed an elephant in the Kotbari Railgate area of
Uttara, Dhaka, on Wednesday. Use of the animal for extortion is common in
the area, according to the demonstrators.
They said the elephant's death was no accident, calling it a “murder caused
by negligence and irresponsibility.”
It was the Forest Department's responsibility to monitor where the
whereabouts of licensed elephants, for what purpose they were being used
and whether their ownership was changing, the protesters said.
Many media outlets had published photos of extortion through elephants and
printed news about the illegal leasing of elephants many times, but no
action had been taken by the Forest Department to date, they added.
The activists also questioned the inaction of the authorities in stopping
mahouts (a person who works with, rides and tends an elephant) from
misusing elephants in city streets and extorting people and businesses.
Chief Conservator of Forests Amir Hossain Chowdhury said in response to the
demands and queries of the protestors that: Two elephants were captured
with the help of RAB in 2019, but no legal action was taken against the
mahout. After that, I could not take action over any elephant.”
He added that it would take till June 15 to determine the number of
licensed elephants in the country.
An elephant died after being hit by the Chittagong-bound Chattala Express
in the Kotbari Rail Gate area on Wednesday, resulting in outrage on social
There were two elephants beside the railway line and the train hit one of
them, killing it instantly, according to the police.
The mahouts managed to flee the area leaving the other elephant on the spot.
The Forest Department was notified immediately about the incident, but it
has yet to take any visible steps over the matter.