Zoo pachyderm release should be closely monitored: Experts

November 19th, 2009 - 4:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 19 (IANS) The release of zoo elephants into wildlife parks should be closely monitored as they could end up creating difficulties for their peers in the wild, say experts in Kerala, which has a large number of pachyderms.
The Central Zoo Authority had last week sent an order to chief wildlife wardens in the country asking that zoo elephants be moved to national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and tiger reserves so that the animals have more space to move around and graze.

But veteran elephant expert Jacob Cheeran said this should be done cautiously.

“Tuberculosis and herpes are two diseases that several zoo elephants suffer from and if they are let out and get into contact with wild elephants, then the diseases will be transmitted from these captive elephants to wild elephants,” said Cheeran.

State Chief Wildlife warden K.P. Ouseph said a copy of the new order would be sent to the culture department that looks after zoos in the state. He said there are five elephants in the two zoos of Kerala and around 140 in various zoos in the country.

Arun Zachariah, veterinary officer of the state forest department at Wayanad, said elephants that are reintroduced into parks and reserves should first be subjected to intensive check ups.

“First of all, elephants in zoos should undergo proper and detailed medical checkups and they have to be observed closely. Then there should be an acclimatisation programme for these zoo elephants before they are finally let open into the parks and sanctuaries. If not, it could create more problems for wild elephants also,” said Zachariah.

Besides the five zoo elephants, Kerala has around 600 captive elephants that are mostly used during religious rituals.

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