BENGALURU: Expressing serious concern over the poor health condition of elephants in camps run by the state government, the Karnataka High Court on Tuesday directed the authorities to come out with a time-bound programme for implementation of recommendations made by the panel of experts. The division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice SR Krishna Kumar issued this direction after going through the report submitted by experts in relation to a PIL petition filed by city-based advocate NP Amrutesh.
The court asked the state government to file the statement about the manner in which it plans to implement the recommendations, by November 21, 2019, the next date of hearing. “We perused the report. At the outset, the report depicts the poor condition of elephant camps maintained by the government. It would be appropriate that the panel which submitted the report monitors or oversees implementation of its recommendations,” the court said.
Referring to the findings of the experts, the court said the main concerns expressed by the committee were about poor health management. Notwithstanding the court order, the report says there are three veterinarians for six camps, but they don’t have surgical equipment, emergency medicines or refrigerator for storage of medicines, no budget for health, and the veterinarians work without assistants.
The report gives the elephants at all camps an average health score of 2.8 out of 5, as per the evaluation of experts who have also highlighted the death of elephants at the camps due to diseases. The court directed the state to give immediate priority to health management, as suggested by the panel which has also evaluated issues in the camps such as food preparation and feeding, weighing and morphometry, veterinary care, foot care, etc.
Highlights of the report
A panel of experts KM Chinnappa, Dr Kalaivanan and Dr NVK Ashraf, constituted by the state government following court directions, submitted a report after visiting the elephant camps at Mathigodu, Cauvery, Dubare, Balle, Rampura and Sakrebyle in the state, and suggested measures to improve the present conditions.
Healthcare or veterinary support is one area where all camps consistently scored poorly. Data on the 18 deaths that occurred in the past four years (2016-19) show that four deaths happened in 2019 and seven in 2018. Of these elephants, four were juveniles and 14 were adults. All the deaths occurred within two years of admission, in Mathigodu and Sakrebyle camps. Ideally, a camp should not have more than 15 elephants.