Fifth Health camp for Captive Elephants at Sonpur

Tuesday, 29 November, 2005
Sonpur, India
IFAW helped micro-chip 77 elephants at the fifth consecutive health camp for captive elephants in partnership with the Bihar Forest Department at Sonpur in the eastern state of Bihar. Between November 12th and 16th, captive elephants from the northern and eastern Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Assam were brought to the five-day long event to be micro-chipped.
A three-member team from IFAW’s partner in India, the Wild Rescue Programme of Wildlife Trust of India, administered the health camps along with the Bihar Forest Department.

The 77 elephants receiving health checks is a significant rise in numbers over previous years. In 2001, 91 elephants were examined, in 2002 the number dropped to 77, in 2003 declined to 56, and in 2004 it was 67.  In addition, this year about 70 elephants were provided with reflectors that would help save them from getting hit in the dark by vehicles.

Bihar Forest Department initiated micro-chipping captive elephants in 2004. “Micro-chipping involves implanting a chip in the left side of the neck to provide the animal with a unique code for identification”, explained Dr Ashraf.  Various physiological and biological aspects of the elephants were examined and all animals were dewormed.

Health camps for captive elephants are organized annually at the Sonpur mela under the Captive Elephant Care (CEC) project by IFAW, in partnership with the State Forest Department. The main objective of the programme is to examine the health status of the elephants. In addition to captive elephants, hundreds of livestock took part in this year’s Sonpur mela.

Sonpur mela is considered one of the largest livestock mela in Asia, where thousands of visitors including tourists and buyers from different parts of the country participate. Domestic animals such as camels, buffaloes, dogs, cows, rabbits, guinea pig, and poultry are traded during the fair. The captive elephants that assemble at the mela remain the prime attraction for visitors.

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