Elephant to be declared national heritage animal
Elephants enjoy a special place in the profile of Kerala, a state that takes pride in its substantial elephant population in the wild. It is an inseparable part of all Kerala temple festivals and are revered though the living conditions and treatment meted out by the elephant owners are often often ghastly and disheartening.
Often tagged with richness and grandiose, elephants were considered as status symbols even in the past. Many Kerala homesteads had elephants and it is one of the few places on earth where a separate branch of medical system for elephants is in place. Based on Ayurveda, elephants are given rejuvenation therapies in the monsoon months of June- July just like its human masters and there are prescribed medications and treatments for many ailments of elephants,which are still being pursued in Kerala. These gentle giants share a wonderful rapport with man and are harmless except when they are not provoked or in seasonal musth.
With the Union Government declaring elephant as the national heritage animal, plans are being mooted for the gradual phasing-out of elephants from commercial captivity. As the first step, the elephant Task Force Report calls for a total ban on future acquisitions of elephants by agencies, institutions or individuals from others or from the wild. Necessary amendments will be made in the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, (WLPA), to ensure that no one can acquire an elephant. Owners cannot own the elephants but will be given ‘guardianship’ of the animal once the owners declare and register their elephants with complete details of the microchipped animals.
The report also has suggested the amendment of Section 39 of the WLPA, to ensure the inclusion of elephants in the definition of government property, including those in lawful possession of individuals and institutions. So, if all these proposals come into force, the elephant conservation campaigns will gain further momentum and would relieve the hapless animals from torture and slogging.