Panel submits report to HC on poor state of jumbo camps

The committee of experts appointed by the Karnataka High Court to review the conditions at elephant camps submitted its report on Tuesday. The committee revealed that the elephant camps are lacking infrastructure, emergency medicines, para-medical staff and are overcrowded.

The report was submitted when a division bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay S Oka and Justice S R Krishna Kumar was hearing a public interest petition filed by advocate N P Amrutesh.

During the hearing, the government advocate submitted the expert committee report on the status of the jumbo camps in the state. After going through the report, Justice Oka directed the government to file objections on November 21.

In a span of 10 months between May 27, 2018 and March 13, 2019, a total of 11 elephants died at various elephant camps in Kodagu and Mysuru districts. One pachyderm died in a road accident, while another succumbed to a bullet injury. Nine other jumbos died due to illness. Of the nine deceased elephants, three were orphaned calves. One of the elephants died after the filing of the PIL, highlighting the gravity of the situation.  

Following the PIL, the court had constituted a committee comprising K M Chinnappa, trustee of Wildlife First, Dr Kalaivanan, well-known wildlife expert from Tamil Nadu, and Dr N V K Ashraf, senior director of Wildlife Trust of India, Noida. The committee visited Mathigodu, Cauvery, Dubare, Balle, Rampur and Sakrebail elephant camps between October 16 and 19.

The committee observed that there were 96 elephants in the camps at the time of inspection. Of these, 62% were said to be of wild origin, which were caught due to conflict or were rescued. Jumbos born in captivity constituted 29%. The  rest were either confiscated from or surrendered by circuses, temples and other forms of private ownership.

None of the rescued elephants was screened for infectious diseases like tuberculosis or herpes before being taken to the forest camp.

The vets do not have the surgical equipment, the committee said. There is also no stock of emergency medicines. The veterinarians appeared to be working without veterinary assistants.

Ideally, a camp should not have more than 15 elephants. But camps like Dubare, Sakrebail and Mathigodu have 29, 24 and 23 elephants, respectively.

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