Coming to the rescue of captive elephants in the country

A captive elephant

A captive elephant  

Staff Reporter

A report will be brought out on welfare measures to be taken for captive elephants

Bangalore: India has about 3,500 elephants in captivity — in forest camps, temples and for tourism and ceremonial occasions. Kept in unnatural settings and without scientific care, many of these elephants are subjected to great stress and suffer poor health. A recent study conducted by the Wildlife Trust of India, a New Delhi-based environmental organisation found that many of these elephants suffered from anaemia and dehydration.

Now three agencies have come together to bring out a report chalking out the welfare measures to be taken for captive elephants. “Welfare Parameters and their Significance on Captive Elephants and their Mahouts in India” is a report prepared by Project Elephant (Ministry of Environment and Forests), Asian Nature Conservation Foundation and Compassion Unlimited Plus Action. It will be presented to the Union Government.

“Our 4,000-year-old tradition of capturing, training and keeping elephants is on the decline. Elephants have complex needs — they are social animals with highly developed cognitive abilities,” said R. Sukumar, Centre for Ecological Studies at the Indian Institute of Science, speaking at a workshop held recently.

“Captive elephants are the most neglected when it comes to wildlife protection in the country,” he said.

Condition of mahouts

The condition of mahouts is in dire need of attention, said I.B. Srivastava, Principle Chief Conservator of Forest and Chief Wildlife Warden, Karnakata.

“Mahouts face grave economic instability and are exposed to several risks. While a mahout’s work is specialised, he is under-recognised and underpaid,” he said.

The report also includes specifications regarding the size of the elephant’s shelter, requirements of drinking water and bathing, chaining, vaccinations and hygiene measures.

Recommended for you