October 27, 2008 11:34:57 pm
In a first-of-its-kind move, Project Elephant has released funds for setting up rescue and rehabilitation centres across the country to accommodate ill or ageing working elephants.
There are an estimated 3,500-3,600 privately-owned captive elephants in the country and most of them are made to work. Approximately Rs 90 lakh has been released for a 400-acre elephant rescue centre to be run in Haryana, officials from the Ministry of Environment and Forests said. Funds have also been released for elephant rehabilitation centres in Kerala (Rs 15 lakh) and Orissa (Rs 10 lakh), officials said.
Meanwhile, another centre to house wild elephants will come up in Uttarakhand, with Rs 54 lakh being sanctioned for the purpose. The centres will have medical and rehab facilities for all elephants, including those owned by private parties. “We have advised all states on the norms for working elephants, including veterinary care and resting protocols. But there was a need to set up rehabilitation and rescue centres for elephants that might not have any other place to go. Until now, the Forest Department ran shelters for elephants that are part of the Forest Department and are usually employed for patrolling purposes. But this will increase the ambit for all elephants who need help,” says A N Prasad, IGF, Project Elephant.
Working elephants are supposed to retire by the time they are 65, but this guideline is not followed across the country.
Haryana will have the largest centre which will be built on the lines of an elephant rescue centre in Chiang-Mai, Thailand, where elephants will roam in large areas. It will be managed by the Haryana Government and NGO Wildlife SOS. “Haryana will have an unconventional centre that will accommodate elephants from north India.”
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