Contraceptive Shot to End Jumbo Menace?

Published: 07th November 2015 05:17 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th November 2015 05:17 AM   |  A+A-

NEW DELHI:The Ministry of Environment and Forests is proposing to immunise female elephants with contraceptives in West Bengal and Odisha to control increase in their population in an attempt to avoid human-elephant conflict.

“Immuno-contraception is a technique of contraception, which induces hormonal changes in female elephants. So far, this technique has not been tried on Asian elephants, but the model has been quite successful in African elephants,” said a senior Union Environment Ministry official.

The ministry earlier this year also had turned to Africa to control human-elephant conflict when it adopted use of bee and chilly fences to control the herds. Every year, lives of around 100 elephants and 400 humans are lost due to human-elephant conflict.

Explaining further, the official said the report of the ‘Elephant Task Force, 2010-Gajah’ had also recommended reproductive control of elephant population in unviable situations.

The ministry would propose this method in an affidavit to the Supreme Court in the next couple of days and would implement it only after getting a go ahead from the apex court. The Supreme Court is hearing a case regarding deaths of elephants at railway crossings due to train hit or electrocution.

The contraceptives to be given to elephants do not manipulate gender hormones and thus there will be no physical or behavioural side effects in elephants, the official said.

The ministry proposes to first start the programme in West Bengal and Odisha, the states with a high rate of human-elephant conflict.

“The vaccine will have no deleterious effect on animals and their behavioural patterns. It will be administered using darts and at no stage requires target animals to be caught or immobilised. The technique to be employed in India will require one shot of the vaccine, which will last for more than two years,” the ministry official explained.

Some of the other methods that the ministry is using for tackling human-elephant conflict are solar powered electric fences, chilly, tobacco and bee fences, modified cropping patterns among others. However, all these methods have had only limited success so far.

Over 200 elephants have been killed in the last three years due to poaching, electrocution, train hit and poisoning.

India started ‘Project Elephant’ in 1992 to protect Asian elephants, their habitat and corridors. Elephant was declared as an animal of national heritage in 2010. India currently has 26 elephant reserves covering about 60,000 sq km.


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