Photo-affixed document to check illegal sale of the animals

Captive elephants of Kerala will soon flaunt photo-affixed registration certificate (RC) books. The book the size of a magazine will have various details of an elephant, including health and ownership status, and its photographs from four angles.

“In the first phase, hard copies of the book will be made available, and the data collected for the book will be stored in electronic format,” Minister for Forests K.B. Ganesh Kumar says.

The book will record a wide range of information related to the animal, including its medical history, the drugs administered, the veterinary doctor who treats it, the time at which it usually develops musth, and the earlier incidents of musth.

The number and contents of the microchip affixed on the elephant and the physical measurements will be entered in the book. The data will be updated periodically and the owners will have to furnish these every year, he says.

A copy of the book will be given to the Divisional Forest Officer, besides issuing one to the elephant owner. The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests has agreed to provide ownership certificates to the captive elephants in the State. Once the certificates are issued and the RC books prepared, illegal sale of elephants can be curbed and their transport monitored. The new system is expected to check any unholy business involving the animals.

Chief Wildlife Warden R. Raja Raja Varma says the department is in the process of finalising the draft of the format. Most of the information available on the ownership certificate and the microchip of the elephants will be incorporated in the book.

Curbs on transport

Come the temple festival season beginning December, the Forest Department will impose restrictions on the transport of elephants in vehicles for ensuring their safety. The department has taken up a report prepared by T.M. Manoharan, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, giving guidelines for their transport.

Several vehicles carrying elephants had met with accidents. The report has listed the type of vehicles in which the animals can be transported and the need for protective side railings, among several things, Mr. Manoharan says. The vehicle should have provisions for storing water for the animal and space for the mahout.

Elephants can henceforth be transported only in specially modified vehicles. The elephant owners will be given time for identifying the vehicles and introducing the modifications recommended in the report. The Regional Transport Officer and the Divisional Forest Officer will inspect the vehicles and issue permits.

A timeline will be fixed for clearing the applications for avoiding hassles and harassment of elephant owners, according to Mr. Ganesh Kumar.