GUWAHATI: Assam has the highest number of captive elephants in the country. The revelation has come at a time when the man-elephant conflict has taken an alarming proportion in the State.
Out of 2,675 captive elephants across the country, as many as 905 are in Assam. Some of such jumbos are with the State Forest department, the rest are in private custody. Kerala has 518 captive elephants, followed by Karnataka and Tamil Nadu with 184 and 138 elephants, respectively.
A noted wildlife activist while quoting replies of an RTI query filed by animal rights activist Antony Clement Rubin told this reporter that the Assam forest department has 150 elephants and 752 pachyderms are in private custody. A total of 335 elephants in possession of private individuals have no ownership certificate or their documents are under process.
“The Forest department is using its captive elephants for patrolling parks and sanctuaries. While some Assamese owners are looking after elephants as a family tradition, many other private owners are now using the animal for the tourism purpose. A few elephants are also being used to keep wild herds out of agricultural fields,” the activist said.
A large number of captive elephants are reportedly being engaged in timber extraction in the neighbouring States, the activist said. On other hand man-elephant conflicts in Assam has taken an alarming proportions with 46 people losing their lives and 36 elephant deaths reported till November 19 this year.