NEW DELHI: Tracing the tusker that has been missing for the past two months is not the only problem with Haryana’s Forest Department rangers. The challenge is rather what to do with the largest land animal if they get it. The department doesn’t not have sufficient funds to feed the animal; it already has three elephants in its custody.
According to forest department, sometimes police are reluctant due to high maintenance cost of elephants and they are sent to a rescue centre or returned to owners.
On an average, an adult Asian elephant eats nearly 200 kg of vegetation including grass, leaves, shoots, barks, fruits, nuts and seeds and drink 150 litres of water per day. Besides, they need open space to roam.
“We don’t get any budgetary support for upkeep of rescued elephants which include daily requirement of food, water and other things. We somehow have been managing these costs from the miscellaneous subhead of our budget. Even police are reluctant to help and they generally tell us that they don’t have space to keep elephants,” said a Haryana wildlife officer.
An online petition has been launched in the matter and 750 people have already supported it. The Haryana Government has also started an elephant rescue centre in partnership with its Forest Department to keep elephants. In 2013, the state passed a legislation that banned trading of elephants at cattle fairs. Under the Wildlife Protection Act, elephants cannot be used for commercial purpose. Elephant owners must have valid ownership certificates/transit permit/permission.