Guwahati’s ‘Elephant Doctor’ talks about special bond with the animals
As a 10-year-old, Kushal Konwar Sarma was content taking care of Lakshmi, the elephant, at his home. At 59, now known as ‘Elephant Doctor’, Sarma treats nearly 800 elephants annually across India and abroad while having saved countless lives throughout his career.
The veterinarian’s 35-year-old association with elephants was a gradual transition as he used to have a strong affinity towards animals from an early age. Conferred Padma Shri for his outstanding contribution in the field of wildlife earlier this year, he has also been teaching at Veterinary Science at Khanapara in Guwahati.
“When I became a veterinary doctor and became professor of veterinary college, my relationship with elephants grew deeper. I treat at least 800 elephants in a year. The association with elephants is like a dream and I enjoy it a lot. I give pre-emptive and reactive treatment to them which includes 200 wild elephants,” he told ANI.
He said that he gets “special joy” in treating elephants in comparison to other animals. Eager to help more, he has been grooming and training the new generation of veterinarians.
He also claimed to have framed Indonesia’s Elephant Healthcare and Management Protocol which is still being followed there.
Sarma said that elephants are facing problems in India due to space constraint. “Human population has increased. Elephants are not getting space,” he said.
In August, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said that efforts are in full swing to provide food and water to the animals in the forests itself to deal with the growing human-animal conflict cases.
“To manage conflicts and avoid loss of valuable lives of both the humans & elephants, it is important to strengthen the human-elephant coexistence,” he said.
According to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Asian elephants are listed as “endangered” on the IUCN Red List of threatened species. This has been done most of the range states except India, have lost their viable elephant populations due to loss of habitats and poaching etc, the ministry said.
The current population estimates indicate that there are about 50,000 - 60,000 Asian elephants in the world. More than 60 per cent of the population is held in India, as per the information by the ministry.