Forest Minister Benoy Viswam said here on Tuesday that the rehabilitation centre for elephants at Kappukad, near here, and the associated study and research facilities were emerging as a global model.

He was speaking after inaugurating the Agasthyavanam Bio Reserve Interpretation Centre and a hostel block for students and researchers.

“The rehabilitation centre has been set up with the objective of caring for aged and otherwise incapacitated domesticated elephants in their natural habitat. The Rs.5-crore project is envisaged as a global study and research facility on elephants. Spread over 56 hectares and surrounded by trenches to keep wild animals at bay, the centre has enough open space for all the elephants accommodated here,” he said.

The Minister said elephant owners could entrust their animals to the centre subject to certain conditions. An owner would have to bear 75 per cent of the maintenance cost of his or her animal, with the government footing the balance. He stressed the need for society to take up afforestation. He said wildlife wardens would be directed to conduct at least 24 nature study camps for students a year at wildlife sanctuaries.

Kuttichal gram panchayat president Palluruthy Chandran presided over the function. Vellanad block panchayat president O. Sreekumary, Chief Wildlife Warden K.K. Sreevastava, Wildlife Warden Anil Antony, Forest Conservator Sobhana, political leaders and officials were present.

Keywords: Animal welfare

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