West Bengal forest officials to train wild elephants, so ‘retirement-age’ elephants can rest (India)


Times of India

Date Published


Fearing prosecution under animal rights laws, forest officials in West Bengal are trying to train wild elephants to work for the Forest Department, so that trained elephants ‘past retirement age’ can be given some well-deserved rest.

“We are giving training to elephants aged less than 8 years. The process to catch wild elephant(s) will start soon. Generally in this regard, we use those elephants who have come out from their group,” the Additional Chief Forester (Wild Animals) of West Bengal told Ei Samay

Due to a scarcity of kunki elephants, the Forest Department has been making even elephants that are 70 years or older work. 70 is the official ‘retirement’ age for trained or ‘kunki’ elephants, after which they should be taken care of by the Forest Department. Out of the 156 kunki pachyderms deployed by the state, 70 have crossed that age.

Department officials decided to train wild elephants as they feared they would be booked under the The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, or face an inquiry from the government’s Project elephant department. The decision has been welcomed by prominent elephant activist Parbati Barua.