Govt rejects idea of golden howdah replica

Govt rejects idea of golden howdah replica

The State Cabinet, on Thursday, rejected outright Karnataka Elephant Task Force’s (KETF) suggestion to replace the 750-kg golden howdah being carried by the lead elephant at Mysore Dasara with a much lighter replica or use a chariot to carry it drawn by the elephant.

Further, the Cabinet also dismissed the Task Force’s proposal to put in place a Karnataka Elephant Expert Group within the State Wildlife Board mandated with planning, advising and assisting in elephant conservation management in the State.

Briefing reporters, Law Minister T B Jayachandra said, carrying the golden howdah during Mysore Dasara procession has sentimental value to the people. Besides it is trained and given proper diet to do so. Hence, the Cabinet decided not to accept the same, he added. Likewise, according to Jayachandra, setting up of an elephant expert group would amount to duplication of work already being carried out by the State Wildlife Board. So, the recommendation to this effect was not entertained.

The government, however, accepted a slew of suggestions proposed by the Task Force, headed by scientist R Sukumar, which inter alia included, regulating tourism near elephant habitats, creating designated areas for tourists with required facilities, stricter regulation of tourist entry into areas within key wildlife habitats.

The government also endorsed taking disciplinary action against officials who have prima facie misrepresented facts about the presence of elephants and other wildlife while clearing project proposals, taking steps to improve connectivity between elephant habitats, manage land use in non-forest areas adjoining designated forests, reduce pressure on elephant habitat from large-scale human resource-use, Jayachandra said.

Steps would also be taken to mitigate and manage elephant-human conflicts in general and in the Alur-Arkalgud region of Hassan district in particular, by digging elephant-friendly trenches and erecting solar powered fences. Around 25 elephants in the Arkalgud region would be captured for training, he added.

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