Panel to be formed to discuss mercy killing of ailing elephant at Corbett Reser…

The Principal chief conservator of forest (PCCF), Uttarakhand on Friday ordered the formation of a panel which will look into the possibility of euthanasia for a 55-year-old ailing female elephant in Corbett Tiger Reserve.

Jai Raj, PCCF with state forest department said, “A panel will be formed to see whether the course of action treatment being followed for the elephant is right or not. If it is right then it will be continued, if it is not right, then it will be changed. If the opinion of the panel is that the animal is in great suffering and its life should be terminated peacefully, then accordingly we will take action on that.”

The panel will include veterinary officers from the state forest department, Wildlife Institute of India, Govind Ballabh Pant University of Agriculture and Technology Pant Nagar, among others. It is likely to have around six to seven members, including the person who owns the animal.

Lakshmi, the around 55-year-old female pachyderm has been suffering from an infection on its feet, apart from ailing from old-age related health issues. It had developed an abscess on its rear feet. The senior official made the comments during a visit to the ailing elephant on Friday.

Vivek Pandey, chief conservator of forest for Kumaon circle who will issue the order regarding the formation of the panel said, “The order regarding the panel will be issued in a day or two as certain things need to be checked by the PCCF. We are also considering keeping members from Mathura-based Wildlife SOS — Elephant Conservation and Care Centre, as their treatment is being followed for the animal.”

In April this year, noted South African veterinarian Dr Kobus Rath had also checked the animal and suggested a three-pronged strategy for treatment, given the elephant’s old age.

Lakshmi is one of the eight elephants seized by the state forest department last year following the Uttarakhand high court’s directions. In August last year, for the first time the forest department took possession of elephants with the private persons in the state. While hearing a public interest litigation regarding encroachments around Corbett tiger reserve, the high court on August 3, had directed the state forest department to take possession of the elephants with private individuals in the state.

In April 2018, the Madras HC had agreed to mercy killing of a temple elephant, only if a veterinarian certified that it would be cruel to keep the animal alive. The judges hearing the case then had noted that “The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1950 allows concerned government officials to euthanize a mortally injured, captive animal.”

But the Madras HC had stressed on the fact that the animal should be killed in a humane way with minimal pain and distress. Earlier in 2007, state forest officials had agreed on mercy killing for an elephant living in Rajaji Tiger Reserve, but it died a natural death before the process of euthanasia started.

First Published:
Jun 17, 2019 15:35 IST

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