BANGALORE: Uncertainty haunts the much-awaited elephant rescue and rehabilitation centres which are supposed to come up in various places across the state. The Karnataka Forest Department, a few months ago, had mooted the idea of opening such centres at three to four places to take care of ailing and abandoned elephants. The department, quite often, comes across a number of baby elephants which accidentally get separated from their herds.
The practice among elephants is that they do not accept a member of another herd. Without attention and proper care, many times the calves die. If the abandoned calf survives, then the department is responsible for its safety and health. There are instances where such calves are fed milk from feeding bottles in the absence of mothers’ milk. These calves lack immunity power and are prone to many diseases, observed a veterinarian.
Keeping all these in mind, the department wanted to set up rescue centres in the forests of Shimoga, Mysore, Chamarajanagar and Kodagu. Senior officials attached to Project Elephant, led by Chief Conservator of Forests Ajay Mishra, had identified several locations for the rescue centres. Meanwhile, the department learnt that there are certain issues that need to be addressed before finalising the project. Firstly, elephants fall under ‘Schedule A’ category and various issues are involved before taking up a new project or programme involving jumbos. Secondly, the department has to strictly adhere to Supreme Court guidelines. Experts also opined that having rescue and rehabilitation centres near the existing elephant camps could prove dangerous as there are heavy chances of the diseases spreading to wild elephants too.
Mishra told Express that, “Usually, after nightfall, wild elephants come near elephant camps for fodder and at that time they may contract diseases. If the epidemic spreads, it is very difficult for the department to treat wild jumbos,” he added.