Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Indian Zoo Elephants Out Of Sight Out Of Mind

In Zoo News Digest 6th - 12th November 2009 (Zoo News 629) I covered the story about 'Elephants to be banished from all Zoos'. I thought it was wrong at the time and I still do. I was not questioning the fact that the conditions for elephants could not be drastically improved for some elephants in some zoos. This undoubtedly was the case. What I believed was that the answer was not to shove all the animals out of the back door and hope the problem would go away. These elephants were not going to be 'free'. They were not going to run around unfettered in 40 square miles of wilderness. Far from it. The Ankus would still be the tool of use and most would end up chained to trees for a good part of the time and never experience even the 'freedom' of wandering around in a zoo elephant paddock, regardless of the size. I have worried about this hasty and poorly thought out decision since it was taken. I still do. In fact I wrote ELEPHANT CARE to address and draw attention to some points which animal rights like to ignore. Not all zoos are bad and bad zoos can improve.

The fate of the Indian Zoo Elephants was brought home to me today when I read this story:

Ailing jumbo may return to city zoo

Jaimala could be on its way back to Lucknow zoo. Reason: the elephant has perhaps not been able to acclimatise to the wild environs of Katarniaghat. Its inability to survive in the wild and learn performing the tasks meant for jumbos has led Katarniaghat officials to consider sending Jaimala back to its old habitat -- Lucknow zoo.

"We can't say what's wrong with it", said divisional forest officer Katarniaghat, RK Singh. The other pet (elephant) we have here takes tourists out on rides but Jaimala is not fit to undertake such rides, he said. The 24-year old Jaimala could be sent back to city zoo. The officials, however, agreed they might have to seek the permission of Central Zoo Authority (CZA) to send Jaimala back. "Had it be fine, I might have kept it for tourist rides," said Singh.

Sumit and Jaimala were the pachyderm companions in the zoo before the CZA directives separated them. The CZA order "calling back" elephants from the zoos and circuses all over the country to forests rendered a blow to Sumit and Jaimala's eight-year companionship. Following the orders, Sumit was sent to Dudhwa and Jaimala to Katarniaghat, in May this year.

Sadly, 40-year-old Sumit died three months later. It's worrisome now that Jaimala too is not keeping well. "Zoo doctors can diagnose Jaimala's problem," said the DFO. In zoo, the elephants were used to a relaxed life. They got their daily meals comprising chapatis and sugarcane, occasional baths and hot massages. The vets and keepers kept tab on their health and moods. On the contrary, it's a tough existence in the wild.

Even if the competition with the wild herd is ruled out, existence is a struggle in forests. Elephants have to eat on their own after venturing out. "Where do we have sugarcane here to feed them?" said the DFO. Even the zoo authorities agree that within the confines of zoo it was a comfortable life for elephants. "I can't say what is stopping Jaimala from adjusting to its new home. The animal was hale and hearty here," said zoo director Renu Singh.

The CZA had asked the zoos to send their elephants to national parks, sanctuaries, rehabilitation camps, tiger reserves and forest areas. The CZA said elephants

Read Full Story by Clicking HERE

Poor old 'Jaimala', I hope the authorities and the few animal rights cultists which have hearts can see their way to allowing the elephants return to Lucknow zoo. Sadly too late for the unfortunate 'Sumit' who has died already. Maybe the animal rights are happy because it died in 'freedom'. A bureaucratic penstroke separated two animals which had been together for eight years. I feel bitter and they are not my animals. I can't even begin to understand how the mahouts felt.


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1 comment:

  1. I agree, and theres also the issues of bringing eventual diseases, like herpes and tuberculosis out to the forest elephants as well. Even if most would end up in some forest camp, still the exposure to wild elephant populations would be highly potential.