Captive elephants languishing in pathetic condition: Study

The condition of captive elephants in Karnataka is very bad, said Suparna Ganguly, Co-Founder Trustee of Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre (WRRC).

Speaking to Deccan Herald on the sidelines of the discussion on  ‘Enslaved Elephants’ (Chronicles of elephants from captivity), in the City, organised by Friends for Elephants, Suparna said, “As per the recent study done by Animal Welfare Board of India and Forest department, the State has over 170 elephants in captivity, of which 140 are with Forest department and over 30 in private ownership. But their condition is very bad.

“The captive elephants are being used for riding in temples. They are kept in small concrete spaces and are chained. Only the ones in control of Aane Mane Foundation near Dubare, are in good condition.”

Interestingly, the study has also shown that children of mahouts and kavadis want to move out of this profession. They want to get educated and earn a decent living.

“This is a good sign. A drive like reforming kalandars to hand over their sloth bears, initiated by Wildlife SOS, is needed for mahouts and kavadis,” Suparna added.

There are also cases where Forest department officials are treating elephants cruelly to please tourists.

Like, in case of Shivamogga, where for a mere Rs 500, the department official or mahout would pluck out hair from the elephant’s tail.

No inspection held
Adding to this, Brinda Nandakumar of WRRC said that there are laws but they are not being strictly implemented. Though there is a law, Forest department officials do not inspect the condition of elephants in private captivity.

Animal rights activists have moved Supreme Court seeking to amend Wildlife Protection Rules and ensure elephants are not used for public display and functions. But to support this, a people’s campaign and awareness is needed, said the animal rights activist, who is also a lawyer .

FB page for tusker
In Kerala, Ramachandra, a 50-year-old tusker, has a Facebook page. There are many people who have formed groups making the jumbo popular. But not many know that he is blind on the right eye and is severely wounded because of the chains.  This is the case with many temple elephants in Kerala and it has to change, pointed out noted actor Chitra Iyer.

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