Elephant birth control introduced in India
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2006:
About a dozen female elephants among the 30 elephants used
for patrol work by the West Bengal Forest Department are soon to
receive birth control implants, senior department official P.T.
Bhutiya told news media in mid-September 2006.
“Our department is suffering a budget cut, so we have been
asked to only maintain those elephants who are useful, and introduce
birth control amongst the whole population,” Bhutiya said. The
forestry department herd formerly produced three or four offspring
Of the estimated 400 elephants left in West Bengal, about
65-80 are captive work or exhibiton animals.
“Some who belong to the camps get impregnated when they go
out to the forests to graze. The growing population has become a
matter of concern for the authorities who find it difficult to
provide the requisite fodder,” West Bengal chief conservator of
forests Ujjal Bhattacharjee explained to Marcus Dam of The Hindu in
March 2006, when the agency first applied to the federal environment
ministry for permission to use the contraceptive implants.
“This is just a killing exercise,” objected Friends of
Wetlands & Wildlife coordinator Mukuta Mukherjee. “If the government
cannot feed the elephants, they should look for sponsors, but not do
anything to cut down their population.”
“We should be encouraging births among the wild population,”
countered Born Free Foundation consultant Ian Redmond to Kate Thomas
of The Independent, “but elephants are complex social animals, and
condemning newborn calves to a lifetime in captivity, in the absence
of funds and a structured program that allows them to be reintroduced
into the wild, would be questionable.”