The government will amend the rules to ensure that captive elephants in the State are looked after well, Minister for Forests K. Raju has said.
The amendment is in the wake of the increasing harassment of elephants. It will ensure that captive elephants are looked after well and given proper diet and rest and the prescribed guidelines are followed while they are taken for public functions and festivals, the Minister said, replying to questions in the Assembly on Monday.
The number of captive elephants in the State had come down from 521 to 507 as 14 deaths had been reported after the first ever census of captive elephants held on November 29 last year by the Forests and Wildlife Department.
Of the 521 listed in the enumeration, 401 were male elephants, 98 female, and 22 ‘makhna’ (tuskless male elephants). In 2018, the Forest Minister said, 34 captive elephants died in the State and a committee that looked into the issue had cited lack of proper rest and upkeep as the major reasons.
The Minister said the majority of temples in the State had not registered for parading of captive elephants for festivals as directed by the Supreme Court. The department had trained 159 mahouts in four districts and issued photo identity cards to them.
For implementing the captive elephant guidelines, a mobile and web application had been prepared and online monitoring had commenced. A databank of captive elephants was ready with the department on the basis of the findings of the census. The Minister said medical certificates had been made mandatory for captive elephants of four years and above for parading at public functions.
The captive elephants found weak would be shifted to the elephant rescue and rehabilitation centre at Kappukad, Kottoor, in Thiruvananthapuram coming up at an estimate of ₹108 crore.
The owners of the captive elephants being shifted on temporary basis by the department would have to fund the stay, he added.