BENGALURU: Even though the Forest Department has adopted the 2008 Central guidelines for strict monitoring and observation of captive elephants, a group of pachyderms seemed to have escaped their notice and quietly arrived from Kerala to Karnataka for logging operations.
Wildlife activists say 18-20 captive elephants, including temple ones, arrived here from Malappuram and other districts of Kerala last month and have been hired by timber merchants of Chikkamagaluru. This, despite a 1994 Supreme Court ruling prohibiting the use of elephants for logging operations in India.
There are strict guidelines from the Centre on management and care of captive elephants, says wildlife activist G Veeresh. “A group of 18 elephants arrived in lorries from Kerala at Mudigere and Balehonnur. The local timber merchants have sought these captive temple elephants from Kerala and the animals arrived in October. Some do not possess the required permits like transport permit, health certificate and certificate from the Chief Wildlife Warden. It is shocking that there is absolutely no monitoring by the State Forest Department,” he says.
He says that the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) guidelines of 2008 specify that measurements of each animal like its age, weight, height and other parameters have to be on record if it has to be put to heavy work like logging. “As it is, logging operations by pachyderms have ceased in the country. When we probed into this, we could get documents of only one elephant, Sreekuttan, with a lot of discrepancies in age, period of stay and other parameters,” he says.
Sreekuttan, a temple tusker owned by P C Saidallikutty from Malappuram district of Kerala, embedded with microchip no: 00065 07B 86, was declared healthy at the time of examination and fit for transportation. Having minor injuries in the trunk and frontal region, this pachyderm whose age has been marked differently (27-32) in three different documents, has been insured for `3 lakh. Details such as period of travel and duration of stay, which the permit must have, are absent.
Chikkamagaluru DCF Manik told Express that only one elephant had come from Kerala to Mudigere and that he would verify if more pachyderms had come to the district. He adds, “We only verify if they possess the relevant inter-state permits necessary for transportation of animals. Only if there is a case of cruelty to animals, we come into the picture.”
In Chikkamagaluru, captive elephants are brought from other states for timber work regularly, adds G Veeresh.