THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The state has set an example in protecting wild elephants, said Forest Minister K Raju while inaugurating a two-day workshop on protection of elephant habitats here on Thursday. According to him, the increase in population and various developmental activities resulted in shrinking of elephant habitat and the Forest Department had been trying to mitigate the problems.
The minister said the state had been following a participatory approach to minimise the man-animal conflicts. “The government aims at conserving forest with the help of public. We have initiated local vigil groups and SMS-based alert facility to deal with the incursion of wild animals in human habitats,” said Raju. Along with solar fencing and trenches to prevent elephant raids, efforts have been made to ensure food and water inside the forest.
The minister said Kerala was the first state in the country to enact law for the conservation of domesticated elephants. According to him, the government had decided to set up a world class elephant management centre, at Kottoor in Thiruvananthapuram, that would be a model for the nation in elephant conservation.
The Forest Minister spoke about the interventions made by the departments in tackling forest-related crimes. He said many poachers involved in killing of elephants at Vazhachal and Malayattoor for ivory were caught. “Ivory weighing 470 kilogrames has been recovered from them. We have sought a CBI probe as we suspect the involvement of international smugglers,” he said.
The workshop is being held in association with the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Wildlife Institute of India, and the Periyar Tiger Conservation Foundation.