The Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) is distributed across 13 Asian range states, of which, India holds over 50% of the global population – approximately, 24-28,000 distributed across 18 states of the country (Menon 2003, Sukumar 2003).
Karnataka Forest Department, in coordination with neighbouring southern states (Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Goa), conducted a synchronized elephant census from 23rd to 25th May 2012 in the state.
Temple elephants are individually housed with usually not more than one elephant per temple. This is the first of many unnatural conditions that the temple elephant has to deal with. Working conditions are poor. The elephants are exposed to long hours of performing unnatural behaviours like blessing and seeking alms. They are made to stand still for long periods of time on concrete, asphalt and other hard flooring and they endure a lack of exercise, space and shade in their daily working conditions. These factors make the average temple conditions the worst in managing
The management of human-elephant conflict is a challenge in India‟s crowded elephant landscapes. Successful mitigation of conflict requires a detailed understanding of the status and patterns of conflict. Also relevant is an understanding of the efficacy of current mitigation procedures in use (Nath and Sukumar, 1998; Easa and Shankar, 1999; Basappanavar and Kaveriapa, 2007; Prabal et al., 2008).
A reliable estimate of population status is important for meaningful species and habitat based conservation and management approaches, especially in a protected area that is under intensive management (Sukumar 2003; Arivazhagan 2005; Varma et al. 2008). A dearth in systematic approach for scientific, area specific enumeration of elephants may be evident from methods and results presented for the species in many of its habitats.
Data was collected through observation of animal/s and interviews with personnel/management, representing various aspects of the elephant’s life in captivity. The data was grouped under different parameters based on physical/social/managerial/ physiological relevance to the animals. A team of experts rated different parameters important to the welfare of captive elephants and this rating was then used to assess the welfare status of elephants and their handlers.