Cricketer urges minister to confiscate elephant 'Number 44' – who's still forced to give rides even after tourist reported violent beating.
Mumbai: Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli fired off a letter on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India calling on Rajasthan Minister for Forest, Environment, Youth Affairs and Sports to take action and relocate an elephant, known only as "Number 44", to a rehabilitation facility for urgent care. Kohli's plea comes after a group of American tourists witnessed eight men violently beating the elephant at Amber Fort in June 2017 – yet over a year later, she's still being forced to give rides.
"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," Kohli writes. "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 Chief Wildlife Warden of the Rajasthan Forest Department, which resulted in a show-cause notice being issued to Number 44's custodian, Wasid Khan, holding him responsible for the abuse. The notice stated that an investigation carried out by the Regional Forest Officer for Jaipur Zoo – as well as a photograph supplied by the American witness – indicated that the elephant was treated cruelly, in apparent violation of numerous animal-protection laws. The Jaipur police also registered a First Information Report against unidentified men under Sections 429 and 289 of the Indian Penal Code for mistreating the elephant and putting the public at risk. However, Khan continues to use her for rides.
Kohli's wife, Anushka Sharma, has also condemned the plight of "Number 44" on social media.