PALAKKAD: The Forest Department’s insistence that veterinarians, who are deputed to dart captive and wild elephants when they go berserk, should possess a valid licence issued by the Animal Husbandry Department (AHD) has received a cold response from the vets.
“The argument the AHD vets who come under the Veterinary Council Act need not possess a licence to dart elephants is invalid.
AHD Deputy Director B Aravind, who has darted around 100 elephants in the state, said, “Just three-four applications for licence have been received from Palakkad, which along with Thrissur hosts a large number of functions in connection with temple festivals. Palakkad and Idukki have been facing wild elephant menace.”
A veterinarian who regularly accompanied elephant squads said the vets’ reluctance in getting a licence stems from the fact what they do is risky. “The Pooram committee deposits `2,000 with AHD when an elephant runs amok. The vet who is deployed to dart it is not provided a vehicle or any extra incentive. Earlier, vets deputed in elephant squads received allowance. This was discontinued. The Forest Department also asks vets to take personal accident coverage of `5 lakh,” the vet said.
Thrissur’s K Panicker, who has darted more than 500 elephants, said experience counted and there was no need for a separate licence from the Forest Department. Dr P B Giridas concurred and said the insistence on a separate licence will enable a vet in rejecting requests by owners and committee members during emergencies saying he or she does not have a licence.
‘Vets may reject people’s summons’
P Shashikumar, general secretary, Elephant Owners Federation, said the primary hassle encountered is the AHD vets’ belief they are amply qualified to fire tranquilisers.