The two ageing female elephants of the Byculla zoo who were being considered to be shifted to the tiger reserves of Chhattisgarh have been rejected by the Chhattisgarh Principal Chief Conservator of Forest as they are too old to be transported.
The two elephants, Laxmi (53) and Anarkali (46) were inspected by forest officials from Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh following the directive by the Central Zoo Authority last year.
The authority had said that all elephants, numbering about 140 in 26 zoos and 16 circuses across the country, should be shifted to national parks, sanctuaries or tiger reserves.
The circular had stated that the large animals required a large area to move around freely and that the environment of a zoo could be restrictive.
The two have been staying in the zoo for more than 35 years.
Along with Byculla zoo, other zoos such as Aurangabad, Pune and Indore were also visited by the team from Chhattisgarh.
“We have rejected the two elephants as they are very old and wouldn’t be able to handle the trauma of transportation,” said Anil Sahu, chief conservator of forests of Chhattisgarh.
The Byculla zoo elephants are around or above 50 years. “Even if they sustain the trauma of transportation, at their age it will be difficult for them to cope up with the forest life,” added Sahu.
“We haven’t received any communication from their end,” said A. Anjankar, director of the Byculla zoo. One elephant each from Indore and Aurangabad zoos has been short-listed and will be transported to one of the four tiger reserves in Bilaspur.
The Chhattisgarh officials will set up elephant camps and young elephants will be used for conducting trails and patrolling the jungles as vehicles can’t be used for that.
After several petitions to the zoo authority from zoos across the country to exempt elephants from their rule due to their age or on health grounds, they have formed a committee that will visit these zoos and take a decision accordingly.