NEW DELHI: India’s cricket captain Virat Kohli called Thursday for a captive elephant being maltreated and used for tourist rides in a tourist hotspot to be relocated to a rehabilitation facility.
Kohli’s plea comes after a group of American tourists had witnessed eight men violently beating the elephant at the famous Amer Fort in Jaipur last year.
Kohli on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India has written a letter to the state minister of Rajasthan to rescue the elephant, known as “Number 44”.
“As a professional cricketer, I am proud to represent our country, but when I learned about the hateful attack on Number 44 last June, I felt so ashamed,” wrote Kohli, currently on tour in Australia.
“Violence against animals is completely unacceptable, not to mention illegal, and our nation cannot fail elephants this way.
“…I beseech you to start helping them by transferring Number 44 to a reputable rehabilitation facility where she can get the care she needs, socialise with others of her kind, and live free from chains, abuse, and fear.”
Kohli’s letter follows PETA India´s complaint to the state’s forest department, which resulted in a notice being issued to Number 44´s custodian, Wasid Khan, holding him responsible for the abuse.
Tens of thousands of tourists visit the Amer Fort, a medieval complex on a hilltop outside Jaipur also known as the Amber Fort, every year and many opt to enter its imposing gates on an elephant.
A report commissioned by the Animal Welfare Board of India early this year revealed that 19 elephants used to ferry visitors were blind or vision impaired while nine others had tuberculosis.
The report also said that the captive elephants were unfit for safaris and that carrying people on their backs endangered both the elephants and tourists alike.