The Madhya Pradesh forest department has launched a scheme for wildlife lovers to adopt old and retired elephants which gave joyrides for at least five decades in Bandhavgarh Tiger reserve.
The elephants can be adopted for a day, week, month or a year.
In a first of its kind initiative by the state’s forest department, 74-year-old Gautam and 69-year-old Toofan- two elephants in Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve – are being given for adoption to wildlife lovers with 13 other ‘domesticated’ elephants, said a forest official on Tuesday.
The initiative has been taken to reconnect tourists and wildlife lovers with the elephants, which are popular among people for joy rides during sightseeing, while generating funds for their maintenance which has been hit hard due to the lockdown and Covid-19 pandemic in the state, said Alok Kumar, principal chief conservator of forest (PCCF), wildlife.
Kumar said the wildlife conservators can adopt an elephant for Rs 500 for a day to Rs 1.50 lakh for a year to bear medical and food expenses on them.
“The wildlife lovers, who opt for monthly and yearly adoption plans, will get a chance to participate in elephant rejuvenation programme camp held annually in September at Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve. In the camp, which is a kind of holiday for elephants, people can feed the animals and spend time with them for better understanding about the elephants,” he said.
Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve field director Vincet Raheem said, “Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve is the worst affected due to the intrusion of at least 35 wild elephants from Chhattisgarh. The visitors are concerned about the presence of wild elephants for more than a year but this adoption programme will enhance the connection with 15 special elephants and reduce their concern. This is more of public awareness for the animals especially in view of the presence of wild elephants in the area.”
Special training programmes are also being conducted in the reserve area for forest guards, guides and villagers on how to deal with wild elephants and how to pacify the animals without hurting them, said the official.
“The training programme will conclude in presence of experts before opening of the tiger reserve for tourists on October 1,” said Raheem.
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