THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Forest minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan has made an intriguing revelation. He suggested in the Assembly recently that only 11 captive elephants had died in the last six years.
In effect he was stating that the captive elephant population in the state has more or less remained the same for the last five to six years.
According to the minister, in 2008 there were 702 captive elephants and six years later in 2014 the population remains virtually stagnant at 691.
Legally, captive elephant population can only come down. One, because the state had stopped the practice of trapping wild elephants and domesticating them way back in 1972.
Two, the state had stopped giving ownership certificates for new elephants since 2004.
Three, there are not many cow elephants in the state and even those that exist are rarely impregnated.
Therefore, if the population has remained more or less the same it can only be the consequence of inter-state smuggling.
“The figures given out by the minister is mysterious to say the least,” said V K Venkitachalam of Heritage Animal Task Force. He said that the figures presented by the minister were proof that illegal transfer of elephants was taking place in the state.
Animal Welfare Board member M N Jayachandran said that the captive elephant numbers should have actually come down.
“Logically, the elephant population should dwindle as a result of natural and other causes. Moreover, we have also stopped granting new ownership certificates,” Jayachandran said.
He said that at least 150 captive elephants found in the state were smuggled from other states.
He said that there were reports from Assam about elephant poachers who trapped wild elephants, domesticated them and transported them to other states. Recently, three of them were arrested.
“Our charge is that the money that paid at source, at states like Assam, to procure elephants is finding its way to fund terrorism, even Maoist activities,” the Animal Welfare Board member said.