CRAR, FIAPO term capture and relocation of elephants in Hassan ‘unscientific’ and ‘ineffective’

Both the organizations have appealed to the State government to adopt better practices to handle the conflict

Published - January 21, 2024 09:44 pm IST - Shivamogga

A file photo of the Forest Department staff capturing an elephant near Sakleshpur with the help of tamed elephants.

A file photo of the Forest Department staff capturing an elephant near Sakleshpur with the help of tamed elephants. | Photo Credit: File Photo

The Centre for Research on Animal Rights (CRAR) and the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations (FIAPO) have urged the Karnataka government to stop the capture of wild elephants in the human-elephant conflict zone in Hassan.

Both organisations have termed the ongoing operation ‘completely unscientific’ and called it a knee-jerk reaction to appease politicians and people rather than find a solution in any way. “Numerous scientific studies have demonstrated that capture and relocation do not work as a strategy. Elephants always return to their home range,” said the press release issued by the organisations on January 20.

Alok Hisarwala, founder of CRAR, said that the capture of elephants from the wild was an egregious exercise of the power embedded in Section 11 of the Wildlife Protection Amendment Act, 1972, which is leading to the death of innocent wild elephants and must be stopped at once.

“In 2023 alone, three elephants have succumbed to death during capture. These botched captures go unquestioned, and emboldened by this, the government continues on this path of capturing wild elephants with impunity,” the press release said.

Bharathi Ramachandran, CEO of FIAPO, said the use of capture was more of a sensationalist smokescreen to appease the general public and, in effect, did not ensure peaceful existence. “Commercial encroachments over forest lands, especially elephant corridors, are the main drivers of human-elephant conflict. Elephant reserves must be recognised as legally protected areas,” she said.

The organisations demanded that the government frame guidelines to regulate the exceptional power under the Section 11 of the Wild Life Protection Amendment Act, 2022. The power must be delegated to an expert body consisting of scientists, ecologists, forest officers, lawyers and members of civil society. They stressed upon the need to protect both human non-human interests in equal measure. “The expert committee must consider, however difficult, the urgent need for reversal of encroachments from constructions linked to eco-tourism and plantation-based commercial farming,” the release said.

Further, both organisations wanted the government to develop best practices for mitigating human-elephant conflict by learning from the examples of neighbouring states, including Tamil Nadu. “Success stories from Valparai and Gudalur of early message warning systems, thermal drones, and radio-collaring need to be learned,” the release added.

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