Animal rights activists are worried with the 30 percent decline in captive elephant population during the last one decade in Assam.
According to reports of the Assam Forest Department available with the Northeast Now, it has come to light that there has been a sharp decline in the captive elephant population in the state.
A document Elephants in Assam, prepared by the Assam Forest Department, showed that the captive elephant population till December 2008 was 1,303 in Assam.
Surprisingly, as per the department’s report on December 2018 to the Project Elephant Division of the Ministry of Environment and Forest showed that the captive population came down to only 905 elephants.
The report was submitted on December 30, 2018 by D.P. Bankhwal, the then Chief Wildlife Warden of Assam to the Project Elephant Division of the Ministry of Environment and Forest.
As per the 2008 report, Doomdooma Division had captive elephant population of 268, the highest in the state. Unfortunately, the population in Doomdooma came down to only 61 elephants in 2018.
In 2008, the Golaghat Division had 177 captive elephants. And, the population came down to only 80 elephants in 2018.
In Sibsagar Division, there were 100 captive elephants in 2008, and the population reduced to 76 in 2018.
Similarly, there were 58 captive elephants in Karimganj Division in 2008. The population was reduced to only 25 elephants in 2018.
While there are reports of many births of captive elephants between 2008 and 2018, it is surprising as to how the population could decline by 30 percent in Assam.
Actually, the population of captive elephants in 2018 in Assam should have been more than that of 2008.
Moreover, it is also reported that juvenile elephants are caught from the wild and are shown as captive born by the wildlife smugglers.
The state forest department has not cited any reason for the decline in the captive elephant.
Ranjana Gupta, the Chief Wildlife Warden of Assam was also not available for comments on the decline in captive elephant population.
“This is a serious issue,” Dilip Nath, a well-known animal activist told Northeast Now on Saturday.
Nath said illegal trade of elephants is the main reason for the decline of the population of captive population in Assam.
“We have reports that several elephants were transported outside Assam with fake documents,” Nath said, adding that people of Assam will have to join hands to save the last surviving elephants population both in the captive and wild.
Recently, the Assam Forest Department was caught on the back foot over transportation of four juvenile elephants to the Jagannath Temple in Ahmedabad.