The Elephant Welfare Organization is a prime NGO in
Kerala dedicated to the cause of captive elephants. It has
organized some training courses for the mahouts and
plans to set up an exclusive hospital to provide veterinary
services for domesticated elephants. The Zoo Outreach
Organization in Coimbatore has been providing a valuable
service by disseminating information relating to the
management and veterinary care of captive elephants
through its journal Zoos' Print. There are associations of
mahouts and phandis (noosers) in Assam, but these are
not very active at present. TRAFFIC-India, a programme
division of the WWF-India, has initiated a study of the
trade in captive elephants. But the fact remains that there
are not enough NGOs working for the welfare of
domesticated elephants.

There are no foreign funded projects relating to
domesticated elephants in India.

Work done by elephants

The survey conducted by Project Elephant in November
and December 2000 gave the following breakdown of
captive elephants in terms of ownership:

Forest Departments = 482

Zoos = 80

Circuses = 106

Temples = 192

Private Individuals = 2 540

Elephants owned by State Forest Departments (SFDs) are
used for patrols by field staff in National Parks and
Sanctuaries. They are also used for carrying tourists
inside forests for viewing wildlife. During floods and other
natural calamities, SFD elephants are sometimes
requisitioned by the civil authorities for arranging relief
works. In the Andamans and Nicobar Islands, Maharashtra,
Kerala and Tamilnadu, SFD elephants are occasionally
used for logging operations. Karnataka Forest Department
provides elephants for the Dusshera festival in Mysore.
West Bengal Forest Department uses its elephants for
driving away herds of wild elephants from croplands. SFD
elephants in Karnataka and Tamilnadu are also often
utilized for capturing and training wild elephants. The use
of domesticated elephants in many states is
disproportionate to the populations of wild elephants in the
states. For example, SFDs in Orissa, Bihar (including
Jharkhand) and Meghalaya possess only two captive
elephants each despite wild elephant populations of 1 827
618 and 1 840, respectively. Even in Kerala, which has 5
737 wild elephants, the SFD has only 16 elephants.
Manipur and Mizoram, the two northeastern states, do not
have any SFD elephants at all. West Bengal Forest
Department, on the other hand, makes intensive use of
domesticated elephants: it has one captive elephant for
every six wild elephants. There is obviously great scope for
increasing the utilization of elephants by the SFDs, both in
the elephant bearing states and elsewhere.


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