BANGALORE: Most of the budget allotted to the Forest Department is used up in feeding elephants in the state. Even if you are an animal lover, you cannot sponsor an elephant of your choice in the department run elephant camps since such provisions don’t exist.
Adopting an animal or bird has been in vogue in many zoos.
It has been a hit in Mysore Zoo (Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens). Many wildlife enthusiasts, including Indian cricketers Javagal Srinath, Anil Kumble and Rahul Dravid, have adopted animals.
This has been made possible for caged animals and birds but there is no provision for sponsoring food for elephants in the department run camps.
Elephant camps are found in Sakrebailu, Dubare, Mattigodu, Balle and near Bandipur, which altogether house about 89 pachyderms.
Most of them were rogue elephants but are being trained, tamed and used for department purposes like rounds. According to an estimate, the department is spending around Rs 1.5 crore to Rs 2 crore on feeding the elephants annually. It is eating up most of the money released to the department by the state. The diet for each elephant is fixed as per its age and sex. More food is given for hard working tuskers and female elephants and less for non-working jumbos.
While the forest department has floated Tiger Foundation to raise funds to conserve the tiger population, such a provision is not available for elephants.
“Creating a foundation exclusively for elephants will definitely help to conservation jumbos as well as accept donations from companies and wildlife enthusiasts,” opined Ajay Mishra, chief conservator of forests of Project Elephant.
Unfortunately, Mr Mishra said, elephants are seen as villains especially after the infamous Mysore incident when a young tusker killed a person and damaged property.
In fact, jumbos are in the news daily for the wrong reasons like damaging crops.
These animals are very shy and never attack people unless threatened.
Despite all these negative factors, there are still many corporate houses and individuals who love elephants as they consider them as an incarnation of Lord Ganesha.
Mr Mishra said the forest department can work out a mechanism if the donors come forward to sponsor the feeding for the jumbos. For this, the department has to come out with bye-laws and maintain an account of donation money.
With more elephants in the camps, the donors can chip in by sponsoring the food, he added.
A DIETARY GUIDE TO THE ELEPHANTS
According to Dr Nagaraj, who has been looking after the Dasara jumbos for more than a month,
■ An adult elephant requires not less than 350 kg of food daily
■ Its menu comprises ragi, paddy straw, horse gram, coconuts, jaggery, green gram and a lot of foliage
■ As they grow older, their food intake increases.