Shelter proposed for orphaned, sick elephants

The Union government wants the State Forest department to set up a
Elephant Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre to take care of sick, diseased and orphaned jumbos, on the lines of tiger and bear rescue and rehabilitation centres functioning at Bannerghatta in Bangalore.

The first such centre for elephants was set up at Haryana a few years ago. But it was closed down due to extreme weather conditions in north India especially during summer and winter. The elephants could not adjust to the weather and became more ill at the centre.

The Union government now wants the centre to be located in Karnataka for two main reasons –– the good weather conditions and the large population of elephants here when compared to other states.

Two non-governmental organisations –– CUPA and Hoysala Wildlife Conservation Society –– have already shown keen interest in joining hands with the Forest department for running this Centre.

Ajay Mishra, Chief Conservator of Forests, Project Elephant, told Deccan Herald that in one of the meetings held recently in New Delhi, the Union government agreed to fund the centre provided it was established in Karnataka.

Accordingly, he visited three places for the proposed centre –– the elephant camp in Shimoga, which was found unsuitable; Dandeli in Uttara Kannada and near Sangam in Bangalore Rural Division.

The criteria

The Union government has put forth five criteria for establishing the centre.

They are: there should be perennial water supply as elephants consume a large quantity of water daily; the area should be at least 50 hectares as each pachyderm requires at least two and a half hectares to move around; there should be adequate fodder as sick or diseased elephants will not be allowed into the forests for grazing to prevent them from spreading disease to other elephants; it should be away from elephant camps so they can have separate mahouts, kavadis and doctors exclusively for them; and lastly the area should have a conducive weather.

Mishra said he has asked all conservators to furnish details regarding the availability of land best suited for establishing the centre. He would then visit these places and inspect to see if they fulfil all the prescribed parameters.

The proposal would then be forwarded to the Union government for its approval. Rescue centres require not less than 100 hectares and only such place will be selected.

Mishra pointed that there have been several instances when the court has directed the Forest department to take care of ailing or orphaned elephants. Presently, they are being housed at Sakrebailu elephant camp.

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