1. Animal Husbandry

State Government of Kerala to Provide Free Food Kits to Captive Elephants

Chander Mohan
Chander Mohan

The government of Kerala has sanctioned Rs. 16,000 for every elephant. The Department of Animal Husbandry (DAH) has been assigned the responsibility of providing the food kits. Estimated 500 elephants would be benefitting from the scheme that was announced by Kerala Food and Civil Supplies Minister P Thilothaman. Each animal would get 40 days’ ration under this welfare scheme. The ration kits would include rice, wheat, jaggery, ragi, green gram, horse gram, turmeric, and salt. 

The jumbo ration kit will be dropped on the doorstep of the elephant owners. Each animal will be allotted food grain and fodder worth Rs. 400 a day and the free ration package will be for 40 days. 

There was interesting scene outside the ration shops that Domestic elephants were seen queuing outside Kerala ration shops on June 25 after the state government decided to give free ration to captive jumbos in view of the economic hardships faced by their caretakers due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The official Kerala emblem is a derivative version of the Royal coat of arms of the Kingdom of Travancore. The state emblem symbolizes two elephants guardin the Sri Padmanabha's Royal Shanku (Conch) in its imperial crest. The crest is garlanded with a wreath over which India's national emblem-Sarnath Lion Capital is found, as common to most Indian states. The current emblem of Kerala was adopted in 1960 when Pattom A. Thanu Pillai's government came to power after removal of communist government by Indian Central Government. 

Captive elephants numbered 255 in the state will get food kits, free of cost, during the lockdown period. As many as 255 captive elephants are expected to get the ration kit during the period. Each kit will contain rice, pulses, green fodder and palm fronds. Going by the data available with the State Forest Department, there are 494 captive elephants in the State. 

The Forest Department has drawn up a list of elephants, whose keepers are finding it difficult to feed them during the pandemic. The government has decided to provide food for various domestic animals, including captive elephants. 

The feeding of an animal, said P. Sasikumar, President, Kerala Elephant Owners Federation, would cost its owners around Rs. 3,500 a day. The menu included rice and flattened rice weighing 5kg each, 2 kg green gram, 25 palm fronds and green fodder weighing around 400 kg. Some owners also fed the pachyderms plantains, he said. Most of the revenue from elephants is earned during the five-month-long temple festival season which starts in December. 

It is estimated that an elephant would be paraded at least 75 festival days during the season, thus covering the investment made on it besides earning a profit for its owner. 

This year, the cancellation of social gatherings and temple festivals had resulted in elephant owners suffering huge loss, said G. Krishnaprasad, President of the Elephant Owners Association. 

The State Government had earlier earmarked Rs. 5 crore for feeding the animals. The elephants would be fed using the funds released for animal welfare. 

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