Captive Elephant Health Care Program Progress
The Elephant Sanctuary is proud to announce our involvement in another grass roots program aimed at improving the health and welfare of captive elephants.
Funding from this program is bringing veterinary care and medical supplies to hundreds of elephants that currently reside under human control in the Northern Indian region known as Assam.
Releasing these elephants back to the wild is not an option at this time. Likewise, bringing these elephants to the Elephant Sanctuary is unlikely due to US governmental regulation restricting their importation.
Although the Sanctuary does not condone the commercial use of elephants, we recognize the dilemma faced as result of these elephants no longer being able to generate an income. Our immediate goal is to relieve the pain and suffering of these elephants.
The program is titled the Captive Elephant Health Care Program and is conducted by EcoSystems-India. The principal investigators are Dr. Kushal Konwar Sarma, Dr. Apurba Chakravorty and Dr. Parag Jyoti Deka. Our involvement in the program is being overseen by our liaison in India, A. Christy Williams.
BACKGROUND: Northeast India in general and Assam in particular has a long history and tradition of keeping elephants in domestic condition. For several decades these elephants were mostly engaged in the logging operations. Being the bread earners, these animals usually enjoyed good care from their owners. When the over exploitation of the forest resources reached a flash point, the apex court of India had to intervene by clamping a ban on all tree-falling activities.
As fallout of the ban some 2000 working elephants lost their jobs and became burdens upon their owners. The minimum expenditure required for maintaining an elephant, including the wages of the mahout, is approximately $205.00 per month. Under these circumstances the owners have begun to neglect the animals, particularly in terms of health care and general management. Therefore, these innocent creatures, which are a part of our ecosystem and culture, need help. The Wildlife Health Unit of EcoSystems-India has chalked out a long-term policy for over all welfare of the captive elephants and rendering health care services is also a part of this program.
OBJECTIVES: Rendering free health care services to captive elephants of Assam by organizing regional filed level camps.
METHODOLOGY: Seven regions are identified, viz. North West (Kokrajhar, Dhuburi, Bongaigaon, Barpeta districts); North Central (Nalbari, North part of kamrup, Darang and Sonitpur districts); North East (Lakhmpur and Dhemaji districts); South West (South part of Dhubri, Goalpara and Kamrup districts); South Central (Marigaon, Nagaon Karbi Anglon and Golaghat districts); South East (Jorhat, Sibsagar, Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts) and Bark valley (North Cachar Hill, Cachar, Karimganj and Hylakandi districts).
Different camps have been organized in this identified region according to the concentration of the captive elephant populations. This program offers general health evaluation, fecal screening, other required hematological examination and minor surgical procedures. Additionally, elephants are vaccinated against endemic bacterial and viral diseases.
If you are interested in assisting with the funding of this on-going elephant welfare project please send your contribution to the Elephant Sanctuary, P.O. Box 393, Hohenwald, TN 38462. Make the check payable to The Elephant Sanctuary/Assam Program.
July 29, 2006