Captive elephants in Kerala are being given 'registration numbers'—in the form of a microchip device planted under the skin—in order to put an end to frauds committed by unscrupulous owners.
"Microchip is one centimetre in length and has a diameter comparable to that of a grain of rice. This is encased in a glass pellet and has a unique code number," veteran elephant expert Jacob Cheeran said.
It is inserted under the skin behind the left ear of the elephant. The microchip, along with a reading device that can read the number from a distance, will identify the animal in all circumstances.
One of the benefits of the unique identity number is that captive-born elephants can be exported only if they have a chip to prove its identity, Cheeran said.
"Sometimes elephant owners use the transportation certificate meant for one elephant to move several more from one place to another. There have been instances of frauds committed on insurance companies. With the chip technology now in place, such malpractices can be prevented," he said.
The Forest Department, entrusted with the job of the implanting microchips, has already begun the drive.
"We expect to finish the job in two months. We have prepared a schedule for each district," said Forest Minister Binoy Viswam.
"We began with Kollam district and the response there was not bad," the minister added.
An estimated 800-odd captive elephants in the state will be covered under the drive.