In recent news, the frequent and distressing deaths of camp elephants in Karnataka have sparked serious concerns. The latest casualty is Virat, a majestic tusker from the Mathigodu elephant camp, bringing the death toll to five since the camp’s public opening on March 16, 2024. Other elephants like Krishna, Karuna, Subramani, Dhruva, Akki Raja, and Ganesha have also tragically perished in various camps over the past year, indicating a troubling trend.

The circumstances surrounding these deaths raise critical questions about the state of care and medical infrastructure in these camps. Reports suggest inadequate monitoring of elephant health and a lack of experienced wildlife veterinarians and medical facilities. Virat’s case, where it sustained severe injuries during capture due to the use of improper ropes, exemplifies the urgent need for improved protocols and resources.

The situation is not isolated to one camp but extends across multiple locations, including Rampura, Balle, Yesalur, and Sakrebailu. The absence of proper care has led to unnecessary suffering and loss of these magnificent animals, highlighting systemic issues within the Karnataka Forest Department (KFD).

Furthermore, concerns have been raised about the proposed use of elephants for entertainment purposes, such as elephant rides for tourists, as a means to generate funds. This approach overlooks the ethical and welfare considerations of these highly intelligent and sensitive creatures.

The call to action is clear: the Karnataka Forest Department must prioritize the well-being of captive elephants by investing in robust medical infrastructure, competent veterinary care, and ethical management practices. Mobile medical units and state-of-the-art facilities akin to the Elephant Care Centre near Kolar should be made available to ensure timely intervention and treatment for injured or ailing elephants.

It is imperative that the KFD conducts a thorough investigation into each elephant’s death, releases pending reports, and takes immediate steps to rectify the shortcomings in camp management. The public demands accountability and transparency in safeguarding these treasured animals.

As advocates for wildlife conservation and animal welfare, we urge the Karnataka Forest Department to uphold its duty to protect and care for all elephants under its supervision, ensuring they are not subjected to neglect, mistreatment, or exploitation for entertainment purposes.