Forest Minister Benoy Viswom has said the number of wild animals has gone up in the forests of Kerala.

In an article released for publication in connection with the Wildlife Week celebrations here on Friday, the Minister said the number of elephants had increased from nearly 4,000 in 2007 to 6,068 according to the latest census. The results of census on other animals were awaited.

Mr. Viswom said the number of wild animals, including tigers, had gone up despite adverse effects of global warming. This was because of the attention paid by the Forest Department for their protection, he said.

The Minister said that while the government cared for wild animals, it was also ensuring payment of compensation to those who suffered losses from attacks by wild animals. The assistance to next of kin of those killed by wild animals had been increased from Rs.50,000 to Rs.3 lakh. For the first time in India, the government had introduced a compensation of Rs.1 lakh to the next kin of those killed of snake bites. Up to Rs.50,000 was being given as compensation for loss of agriculture crops.

He said the government had been able to revise rents on forest leases after one-and-a-half centuries. It could also resume land with expired leases.

Much support and recognition could be obtained for the forestry programmes of the department. The police, CRPF and navy, besides the general public, were all cooperating with the afforestation programmes. Thousands of trees had been planned on land belonging to defence forces.