A time when concerns are raised over the threat of zoonotic diseases, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has cautioned that tuberculosis could be transmitted from captive elephants to human beings. The animal rights organisation said that the there was high prevalence of tuberculosis in captive elephants.
The organisation even petitioned to Union Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying Giriraj Singh to ban elephants from being exhibited or trained for performances. In the representation, PETA said that tuberculosis has been detected in elephants and it could be transmitted to human beings.
They also alleged in the representation hat elephants that have tested for tuberculosis were used for rides in many places such as at Amer Fort, Jaipur, Rajasthan. They are also used in circus and even in films. These elephants are even paraded for festivals, parades and TV shows, PETA said.
They demanded to ban the elephants from being paraded or used for rides. These animals should be set free and avoid the risk of contacting any disease, they said. PETA India CEO Dr Manilal Valliyate said that coronavirus has shown the world that the risks involving zoonotic disease must be taken seriously.
The representation called for issuing a central notification banning the exhibition and training of elephants. PETA also pointed out some studies in their representation that had pointed out about the threat of disease transmission. It quoted a 2018 evaluation report of captive elephants in Jaipur by the Animal Welfare Board of India. This board is a central government statutory body. The study revealed that ten per cent of the elephants in Jaipur were found to be reactive in a rapid serological test for TB. Another study of about 600 elephants in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala found the evidence for high prevalence of asymptomatic tuberculosis. The study was published in 2012.
Another study in 2013 found two probable cases of cross-species transmission of M. tuberculosis between mahouts and captive elephants. The first is human to elephant transmission and second one is elephant to human transmission of M. tuberculosis.