While Assam Forest Department is set to transport four juvenile elephants to Gujarat, a team of experts would now examine the animals before giving the final green signals for the transfer.
Earlier in June this year, four juvenile elephants – Rupsing, Joymati, Babulal and Rani were scheduled to be transported from Tinsukia in Upper Assam to the Jagannath Temple at Ahmedabad in Gujarat.
However, due to the heat wave-like situation in Gujarat and rest of North India around that time, an expert committee had said the elephants may die of heatstroke as they don’t have sweat glands.
The decision to transport the four elephants was later kept in abeyance following an order by the Gauhati High Court.
While there has been a slight improvement in the weather conditions in North India, the Assam Forest Department is now gearing up to send the four elephants to Gujarat.
A five-member expert committee was constituted on Tuesday by the Assam Government for smooth transportation of the four elephants.
The expert committee, which comprised of Dr Pulin Chandra Das, Dr Gourango Mahato, Dr Pranjit Baruah, Dr Bijoy Gogoi and Dr Debabrata Phukan, held a meeting on Wednesday afternoon.
After the meeting, Dr Pulin Chandra Das, who is the chairman of the committee, told Northeast Now that the weather condition in North India is “now conducive” for transportation of the four elephants.
The members of the expert committee would inspect the four elephants between December 2 and 5, and take the final decision on the possibilities of transportation of the animals to Gujarat.
The expert committee on Wednesday afternoon wrote to the commissioner and secretary of the Assam Environment and Forest Department to arrange the logistics for spot inspection of the four elephants.
However, Dr Das could not comment on whether the Assam Forest Department had enough proof that three of the four elephants were captive-born, and were not caught from the wild.
As per records, Rupsing, Babulal and Rani had no official records of being “captive born” till December 30, 2018.
The Assam Forest Department on December 30, 2018, through a letter (WL/FG.7/16/TP/Domestic Elephant/2018-2019), informed the Project Elephant Division of the Ministry of Environment and Forest there are 905 captive elephants in the state.
Surprisingly, names of Rupsing, Babulal and Rani did not feature in the list of 905 captive elephants in Assam. The list was submitted by the then Chief Wildlife Warden, D.P. Bangkhwal.
Even if the three juvenile elephants were without a microchip and without ownership certificates, their names should have been in the list of 905 elephants of Assam as on December 30, 2018.
Interestingly, the expert committee members were also not aware as to how the male juvenile elephant Rupsing got the bullet injury on its left foreleg.
“We don’t know about it. We can comment only after we inspect the four elephants,” Dr Das said.
According to reports, elephant smugglers had opened fire at Rupsing while trapping it from the wild.
While two serious issues about the elephants still remained unanswered, it remains to be seen what decision the expert committee takes after spot examination of the four elephants.PDF file