By Viju B.
The state government has given sanction to a controversial proposal mooted by the state forest department to hire captive elephants held by the department for commercial purpose.
The government has now sanctioned hiring of elephants living in forest camps in Konni, Arienkavu, Kottur and Mutthanga to public at Rs 12,000 per day.
"Those hiring the elephants will have to observe all conditions stipulated under the Kerala captive elephants and management rules (2012) during off seasons only,'' the order said.
The order came after a request from the chief conservator of forest asking for extending the permission to hire all captive elephants which was earlier done for elephants in Kodanadu forest range.
There is a huge demand for elephants for temple festivals, parades and tourism-related functions as there is a ban on bringing new elephants from other states. Many owners exploit this shortage by making the elephants work for over 12-13 hours a day for over 8-10 months a year.
"An elephant owner earns around Rs 50,000-1 lakh a day, while a healthy adult elephant takes part on an average in 200 ezhunellippu (temple parades) a year. The owners are killing the golden goose by making them overwork day and night," said V K Venkatachalam, secretary, Elephant Lovers' Association.
Wildlife experts said that the owners often violate the Kerala captive elephants and management rules which state that elephants can be taken for processions for not more than three hours a day and they should not be made to work in the night if they had worked during the day. More....