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Elephants banned in Mumbai, left in the lurch

Jul 26, 2007 10:08 AM IST India India

Mumbai: Thirteen-year-old elephant Laxmi spent most of Wednesday at the Andheri Police Station thanks to a new circular sent out by the forest department, banning the entry of elephants in Mumbai. The law is expected to check the use of elephants for begging by the mahouts. The mahouts were booked under the Bombay Police Act, the Beggaries Act and the Wildlife Protection Act and were fined Rs 1200. "They were booked under the Bombay Police Act and action was taken against them," said sub-inspector Pagare, Andheri Police Station. Elephants like Laxmi often live at the mercy of their mahouts depending on the food given by devout citizens. According to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals or PETA, these elephants are often exploited by the owners. "We wanted to send a strong message that elephants can no more be patronised in the city of Mumbai,” said campaign manager of PETA, Jaya Simha. With no prospects of livelihood in Mumbai, Laxmi's mahouts are taking her back to their village in Madhya Pradesh. The law aims to deter the mahouts from entering Mumbai, but no provision has been made for the rehabilitation of elephants already living in the city.