By K.S. Sudhi
Insure life of elephant squad members, say darting experts
Elephant darting experts have suggested the introduction of new tranquillisers and involvement of a host of officials in mob-control measures while restive animals are being darted.
The suggestions were drawn up by the Kerala Government Veterinary Officers Association with the support of the Department of Animal Husbandry in the wake of the death of veterinarian C. Gopakumar, who was killed by a restive elephant as he attempted to dart it, in January this year.
The association said though several new drugs were used worldwide for tranquillising wild animals, including elephants, many of them were still not used or available in India. New and safe drugs should be used. They should be purchased and distributed by the Directorate of Animal Husbandry, it suggested.
Elephant squads should not be used as wildlife squads to attend to free-ranging animals as it required separate skills.
The squads should be made a permanent establishment, at least in districts with large elephant population.
The squads were active only in Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Kottayam, Thrissur, Palakkad, and Wayanad.
The tedious and risky assignment, inadequate support from the Department of Animal Husbandry, absence of monitory benefits/remuneration for squad duty, and lack of coordination between departments hampered the squads’ operations, they said.