Cabinet says no to reducing weight of golden howdah

The State Cabinet on Thursday agreed to implement a majority of recommendations of the Karnataka High Court-appointed Elephant Task Force, to prevent man-animal conflict in the State.

A Cabinet meeting, chaired by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, however, rejected the recommendation on reducing the weight of the golden howdah carried by an elephant during the grand finale of the Mysore Dasara celebrations (Vijayadashami Day).

Briefing presspersons on the Cabinet decisions, Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs T.B. Jayachandra said the elephant has been carrying a 750-kg golden howdah during Dasara since the days of Mysore Wadiyars. Since it was part of the festivities, the Cabinet rejected the suggestion.

The decision to implement the recommendations has come close on the heels of the four deaths caused by a herd of elephants on the outskirts of Bangalore on Sunday.

No to board of experts

Another rejected suggestion is of the constitution of a separate board comprising experts to safeguard wild elephants. Since the Wildlife Board was constituted under the Wildlife Act 1972, the Cabinet decided that there was no need to set up another board.

The 13-member task force, led by Raman Sukumar of the Indian Institute of Science’s Centre for Ecological Sciences, had specifically dealt in detail with the issue of man-animal conflict in various elephant corridors, making a series of suggestions in its 150-page report submitted in September 2012.

The recommendations to be implemented are the creation of elephant conservation zone, elephant-human coexistence zone and elephant removal zones, with specific set of goals and prevention of commercial infrastructure projects near elephant corridors.

Barriers to come up

The Cabinet agreed to construct barriers such as elephant-proof trenches to prevent animals crossing over to farms from forests or elephant corridors, control of tourists visiting elephant habitats, protection and safeguarding of temple elephants, capturing of 25 elephants in the Alur-Arkalgud region and translocation of elephants, Mr. Jayachandra said.

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