Monday, September 6, 2010

Do not force elephants to seek alms: Chief Wildlife Warden

Online edition of India's National Newspaper
Friday, Jul 16, 2010

Chennai: The Wildlife Wing of the State Forest Department organised a two-day sensitisation programme for both the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment (HR and CE) Board officials and private owners, who are keeping elephants.

Explaining to journalists about the programme, R. Sundararaju, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden, Tamil Nadu, said a total of 91 elephants were in the hands of both private people and in the temples maintained by the HR and CE Department. Apart from this the State Forest Department was rearing about 50 elephants including a few calves.

A common complaint was that the elephants of both the HR and CE Department and in the private hands were forced to seek alms.

The officials and the private owners have been advised not to resort to this practice. In case if they were found to violate this, their animal would be seized by the Wildlife authorities, they were warned.

Another important issue was the cemented floor in temples where the pachyderms were kept. Mr Sundararaju said most of the temples have changed the old system of keeping elephants in the cemented floors. This created problems in the legs of the elephants, which is a very sensitive part.

Veterinary services

Similarly, the participants were asked to provide proper veterinary care to the animals.

A veterinarian should visit once in a fortnight and check the health condition of the animal. Both the officials and the private owners should maintain record of the visits of veterinarians, which would be checked by the Wildlife authorities periodically, Mr. Sundararaju said.

Elephants blessing people with its trunk was a common practice.

Such practice had led to problems for the animal. So the participants have been advised to avoid it, he said.

The participants have been given a brochure on how to transport an elephant from one place to another. The Wildlife authorities have clearly given guidelines on the procedures to be followed while transporting the pachyderms by road or rail.

License renewal

Under the old system, the license for keeping the elephants was issued for 10 years. In the new system the owners have to renew their license once in five years, he said.

In case the public come across elephants seeking alms, they can contact Chief Wildlife Warden's office number: 044-24321738 or Chennai Wildlife Warden's Office number: 044-22351471 or the Wildlife Headquarters office number: 044-22200335, he added.