By: Nida Sayed

Panaji (Goa) April 3, 2020: Staying in their areas in Goa with minium freed at their disposeal, captive animals like elephants are worse hit during the lockdown.

The elephant caretakers in the state are awaiting a green signal from the government to transport fodder from other state. However, with movement restricted, the caretakers have no choice but underfeed the elephants and they are therefore seeking travel permits to source fodder and facilities the feeding of these gentle giants.

“Due to the lockdown, acquiring the natural fresh green fodder has become difficult. Now, I’m serving them greens from my own property. But soon, even that will soon get exhausted,’’ director of Goa Ecotourism Joseph Baretto said. He owns a rest house in Kulem and has six elephants in his farm, including one six-month-old elephamt calf.

Baretto said that he contacted the Mamlatdar, deputy collectors as well as the directorate of animal husbandry and veterinary service (AHVS) for help, but to no avail.

“The feed has rice mixed with cereals and vitamins. Our elephants require about 12 palm tree leaves per day and it is difficult to source them as well as transport them, right now. It costs Rs 3,500-4,000 per elephant per day. We cannot keep the animals hungry and confined in one space until the lockdown ends,” he said.

Captive animals depend of their owners to feed them, but the forest department must intervene to help, said Alok Hisarwala Gupta, who manages the elephants’ rights campaign of the Federation of the Indian Animal Protection Organisation.

“The forest department is the custodian and it is their responsibility to step in. The department must inspect such sites and make sure that the elephants are being fed. They must that they’re okay,” he said.

The chief conservator of forests and chief wildlife warden, Santosh Kumar said that the AHVS referred tha matter to them on Thursday. “We are in the process of issuing them a permit.” He said.