Assam demands lifting of ban on elephant sale

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New Delhi, Feb 16 (UNI) Assam has demanded that the ban on sale of elephants should be lifted in the interest of conservation of the animal, but the Centre has reservations on the proposal.

Chief Wildlife Warden of the state M C Malakar put forth his demand at a national forest and wildlife meet, called by the Ministry of Environment and Forests here this week.

He argued that in the face of the ban on sale, those who were not able to maintain their domesticated elephants, were leaving them uncared for, whereas if they were allowed to sell them to those who had the means to maintain them, the animal would be saved.

However, later talking to reporters, Director, Project Elephant A N Prasad said it was not feasible to accept the demand of allowing sale of the animals.

''In our view, such a move might harm, rather than help the cause of conservation, as we don't have the means to determine whether the elephant sold was cuaght from the wilds or was a domesticated animal,'' he said.

He said even if a decision to lift the ban was ever taken, the government would have to come out with a large number of safegaurds.

It is an issue which needs a lot of debate, he added.

Mr Malakar also urged the Centre to extend the last date for elephant owners to declare their possession of the animal, as people living in the interiors were yet to be aware of such a law.

He also wanted the Centre to bear the cost of compensation paid, in case of damages caused by wild elephants in human habitations.

Mr Malakar also highlighted the increasing man-animal conflict in Assam, which was resulting from the degradation of wildllife habitat.

Other states like Meghalaya, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh also demanded that the Centre should bear the cost of compensation paid to people who become victim of wildlife attacks.

All these states were very much concerned over increasing incidents of man-animal conflict.

In fact Director of the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun agreed with them and said the problem of elephant-man conflict was acquiring a very alarming proportion and except one or two states, none were capable of handling it. The government was going to organise a special training for the wildlife staff for handling elephants, he said.

UNI NAZ AE BD1657

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