Caring for your friendly neighbourhood jumbo - here’s how

November 5th, 2008 - 1:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Thrissur (Kerala), Nov 5 (IANS) With 13 Asian countries home to around 15,000 captive elephants, here comes a book that will come in handy for managing and caring for the gentle giants that have for centuries endeared themselves to man.The 500-page “Captive Elephants in Range Countries for Doctors and Veterinarians”, authored by veteran elephant expert Jacob Cheeran, is expected to hit the stands early next year.

“This is my third book exclusively dedicated to elephants and I am writing it for the doctors in range countries because elephant management and care in the 13 Asian countries is totally different from that in other parts of the world. So this is meant for vets in Asian countries,” Cheeran told IANS.

The book is a complete glossary on the anatomy, physiology, disease control measures, behavioral patterns, nutrition of captive elephants - a gentle giant known for its intelligence and memory.

“The captive elephant population in the 13 Asian countries is approximately one-third of the total wild elephant population. Hence the book is of vital importance,” he said.

Among these countries are Sri Lanka, Thailand and Indonesia. India alone has around 3,500 captive elephants.

Cheeran, 68, retired in 2000 as head of the department of pharmacology and chairman of the elephant study centre attached to the Kerala Agricultural University.

“When we can’t tame a tiger, an elephant can be tamed because it has good intelligence and memory.”

In the book, he has written on the nutritional requirements of captive elephants.

“I have discussed the calorie requirements of Asian elephants in depth because while less than 45 percent of the food consumed by African elephants is digested, Asian elephants digest close to 50 percent.”

He has also written on the behaviour of Asian elephants.

“African elephants are more temperamental when compared to the Asian ones and hence i have given a lot of importance to discussing behavioral patterns,” said Cheeran.

He said the book would have lots of pictures and a few publishers from within the country and outside had expressed interest in it.

“The initial funding for the book came from Bangalore-based NGO Asian Elephants Nature and Conservation Foundation,” said Cheeran, who is currently a member of the Asian Elephant Specialist Group and chairman of its Captive Elephant Management Group.

He is also expected to have a brain storming session for three days later this month with six specialist doctors, whose suggestions and comments would be taken into consideration.

Cheeran’s “Zoo and Wild Life Management” is a textbook for veterinary science students across India.

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