The first survey of captive elephants in the country, details of which were submitted in an affidavit by the Ministry of Forest and Environment to the Supreme Court, shows that Assam and Kerala account for more than half the nationwide total of 2,454 (The Indian Express, January 29). Assam has 37% of these captive elephants and Kerala has 21%. Concentration in two states means a wide gap with the count in other states — the third highest is Karnataka’s 184, roughly one-fifth of Assam’s 905 and a little over one-third of Kerala’s 518.
The affidavit covers data for 28 states and Union Territories. Among these, Maharashtra (13 captive elephants) has not furnished the number of elephants with its Forest Department, the affidavit said.
Less than one-fourth (560) of the elephants are with Forest Departments, nearly three-fourths (1,809) are in private custody, and only 3% (85) are in zoos. Of those in private custody, 93% (1,687) belong to individuals while the rest are with circuses, or temples and religious institutions.
664 Number of elephants for which there are no ownership certificates, or for which certificates are under process.
469 Number in Assam (335) and Kerala (134) for which owners do not have certificates. These are out of 752 in Assam and 479 in Kerala that are in private custody (all owned by individuals).
26 Number of circus elephants in 4 states — Gujarat (12), Tamil Nadu (6), Karnataka (4) and MP (4).
96 Elephants with temples and religious institutions. The bulk of these are in Tamil Nadu (39), Karnataka (28) and Gujarat (19).
(Source: Affidavit to Supreme Court by Ministry of Environment & Forest)