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        A quick note on Microchip in Elephants
                               Prof. Dr. Jacob V. Cheeran  

Microchip is a small device inserted into the body of an
animal to identify them. It is used in many farm animals like
pigs and companion animals like dogs. In elephants, it is
inserted into the body of the elephant to lie under the skin.
This is to identify the animal in all circumstances. The
microchip system comprises of two components. One is the
microchip itself and the other is the reader. This is a
device to read the implanted chip, i.e. the unique code of
the microchip.

Microchip is a very small device and will have 1cm in length
and a diameter of rice. This is encased in a glass pellet
and has a code number, which is never repeated or
duplicated. Usual site of implantation in elephants is in the
backside of the left year. This site is selected with an idea
that anybody can read the chip taking the reader to the
usual site. This is because the reader had to be taken to
reasonably close to the chip. Microchip reader is capable
of reading this code, which is inside the implanted chip,
from a distance of about 10 cms. The code is usually of
nine digits like {TN 123-546-879 or 231-456-789A or 4D
123-456-987}.

Why do we use microchips?

At present, there is only a registration certificate to
determine the ownership of an elephant. This does not
contain enough data to make animal unique to the owner
of the elephant. Hence, it can lead to fraudulence by
making use of it for another animal, which may be stolen,
illegally caught or unauthorised purchase. This type of
fraudulence can be prevented by insertion of a microchip.
Microchips also help the inspecting authorities like the
state forest department, animal husbandry department, as
the case may be, depending upon the country. This also
gives the details like; the registration history of the animal,
identifying it during transportation or even when veterinary
history is needed.

At present, the microchips are implanted at free of cost, by
the State Forest Departments or some NGOs in certain
countries. Unfortunately, some owners are not happy with
chip implantation. This is without any basis. The chip can
be considered as the Registration Certificate Book(R. C.
Book) of an automobile, which records engine number and
chassis number. Hence, there is no need of apprehension
for a law abiding and honest citizen about the system.

It is safe for the owner to get the chip implanted since his
animal can be identified, located and the claim of
ownership established.

Some weak points in the case of chip implantation are the
uniformity of the site of implantation, which is to be
standardised. Fortunately, currently there are no
differences of opinion about the site. Another one is that a
central data bank is to be created. Similarly, at present,
the  cost of the reader is high and hence it cannot be
made available wherever is needed. But this cost will soon
come down since use is going to be extensive and
production will be scaled up. We may also need a type
reader, which can read all brands of chips, irrespective of
the manufacturer. Those type of readers are already in the
market.
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