The Kerala government is set to provide free food kits to the captive elephants in Kerala. A total of 255 elephant owners have registered for the kits, and their details have been handed over to the state Department of Animal Husbandry by the Forest Department.
"The Forest Department had earlier contacted us asking whether we need support. Many elephant owners were struggling to take care of the animals as there is no income these days,â€ť Sasikumar, Secretary, Elephant Owners Federation said.
Elephant owners earn income during the season of temple festivals in Kerala which starts from December, and ends by May. However, all the festivals and functions have been cancelled due to COVID-19 and the lockdown, meaning there is no income from the elephants too, Sasikumar said.
The Forest Department reportedly consulted two elephant ownersâ€™ associations in Kerala to prepare the list of beneficiaries. Rice, pulses, green fodder and palm leaves are included in each kit, which is worth Rs 400 and will be distributed by the Department of Animal husbandry.
"There are more than 494 captive elephants in Kerala. Many of their owners had asked for help. They are finding it difficult to feed the animals. Some others donâ€™t want to burden the government, so they have not asked the government for the kits," Sasikumar added.
As per information from the Forest Department, they have given the list of beneficiaries to the Department of Animal Husbandry that will be distributing the kits to the elephant owners at their doorstep.
"We spent an average of Rs 5,000 daily to take are of an elephant. Three mahouts needed daily batta (allowance) of Rs 325 each apart from the monthly salary. Apart from that elephant's food and medicine, they require this amount for their expenses. So this help from the government will be great relief for many owners," Sasikumar said.