New amendment in Wildlife Protection Act brings hope for elephant lovers

KK Sreeraj

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Thrissur: The latest amendment in the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 has given a slight relief for the festival and elephant lovers in Kerala. Their fear that festivals will lose their grandeur with the shortage of captive elephants has been driven away by the amendment which facilitates the inter-state transportation and sales of elephants.

However, the state government’s support is also required to utilise the benefits of the amendment to maximum. Hundreds of Keralites are currently willing to buy elephants from outside the state. It has been expected that the increasing number of elephants will reduce the cases of exploitation of elephants. Though there are 430 captive elephants in the state as per records, only 100 to 150 elephants could be taken for processions. Ailments and the period of musth hinder the owners to present the elephants for festivals. Out of a total of 43 captive elephants under Guruvayur devaswom, nearly 15 elephants are presently allowed to attend processions.

A shortage of captive elephants has been bothering the temple authorities to arrange the tuskers for processions during festivals for the past few years. The Guruvayur devaswom had requested permission to adopt baby elephants for the temple. However, the state government denied it.

The new amendment will also save temple authorities from the huge expense of bringing elephants for the festivals. Currently, elephant owners are charging lakhs to offer elephants for rent.

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