Elephants of the Pink City, Jaipur, India: A study of the captive elephant welfare and management practice in ex-situ environmental conditions

Authors: Ayan Sasmal*, University of Northern Iowa, Andrey Petrov, University of Northern Iowa
Topics: Animal Geographies
Keywords: Desert, Captive, Management, Welfare, Stereotype
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 5:20 PM / 7:00 PM
Room: Napoleon Foyer/Common St. Corridor, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: Download

Although the arid Rajasthan desert is far from native elephant habitat, captive elephants (Elephas maximus) are managed by some private owners in Jaipur. The semi-arid Jaipur experiences a very hot summer and an extreme cold winter. Along with this, improper management practice and tremendous work load has changed the captive elephant normal life drastically. This study aims to identify the gaps in the management practice of captive elephants. A total of 72 captive elephants were studied in Jaipur. Data about the captive elephant status, veterinary care and the socio-economic conditions of their mahouts were collected through daily observations and conducting interviews to the mahouts or the elephant owners respectively. Later this data were used to assess the welfare status of the captive elephants. Result show the deviation in normal condition: a restricted diet, no free ranging, and lack of mobility (stereotyped behaviour) had adversely affected the captive elephant life. In addition, 98.6 % of elephants had sole crack, 61.1 % had nail crack, 77.8 % had corneal opacity, and 4.16% had corneal ulcerates. All the captive elephants had some injuries on their body and forehead. Furthermore, the elephant keepers lack in basic knowledge, their mean duration of stay with the elephants is 5.36 years and 27.0% elephant handler needed training for handling elephants. Additionally, the mahouts are poor, 97.1% are illiterate and receive approx. $350-430 annually albeit have 3-12 persons in each family. They are sometimes addicted to drugs and alcohol that negatively effects the elephants life.

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