Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala government plans to offer a nutrition scheme to revive the health of captive elephants that have been forced to face starvation due to the lockdown.
The government plans to spend Rs 6 crore to feed 252 captive elephants under private ownership in the state.
The Disaster Management Authority will provide the amount to the Department of Animal Husbandry and Rs 16,000 will be set aside as subsidy for each elephant. The respective owners will have to bear the rest of the cost.
It is estimated that there are about 600 captive elephants in Kerala. The Animal Husbandry Department said it will go by the list of captive elephants given to it by the forest department in implementing the scheme.
The department will start giving the nutritious feed from June 20 directly to the elephants through the district animal husbandry officers.
The feed to be distributed will include rice, wheat, ragi, sorghum, jaggery, a mixture of minerals, and vitamins and the diet plan will be based on the elephant’s age, the department said.
Private owners have been going through a difficult time and have not been able to feed the elephants properly after suffering a huge loss of income due to the cancellation of temple festivals forced by the COVID-19 lockdown. The nutrition scheme is being launched under the direction of the forest department to solve this problem.
During temple festivals and other occasions, there are owners who earn as much as Rs 2 lakh daily.
The scheme was delayed due to some unavoidable circumstances, animal husbandry department director Dr C Madhu said.
The Disaster Management Authority has also allotted Rs 5 crore to the department to provide fodder for domesticated animals and captive elephants during the lockdown, he said.
Dairy farmers in quarantine will be given two sacks of cattle feed for free. Feed worth Rs 3.25 crore has already been distributed under the scheme, the department said.