Jaipur Animal Welfare Program - To Provide Medical Care and Improve Living Conditions of all Elephants in Jaipur
Project location: INDIA, Jaipur
Project start date: December 2015 - Project end date: February 2016
Project number: 2015-036
Beneficiary: Animal Help Foundation
Jaipur currently has 121 captive elephants (17 of these elephants are non-working, currently), owned by different elephant owners. About 90% of the working elephants, work at the Amer Fort (a tourist destination in Jaipur) to ferry tourists up a steep slope, leading to the main gate of the fort. Until a few years ago, there were no restrictions on how many rides, how many people in one ride and the elephants. Now according to the order of the Government of Rajasthan, a maximum of 4 rides are allowed per elephant, per day and not more than two people on the elephant during a ride.
AHF and HSI’s involvement: A non-profit started to work with these elephants in 1998 but had to close down operations after five years. After their exit, these elephants were neglected and there were reports of some elephants dying due to neglect. Due to other internal issues, elephant owners were weary of working with other non-profits. But in April 2013, with the support of the government, HSI and AHF got the permission to provide medical treatment to these elephants. Since then, AHF and HSI have been working closely with the elephant owners, mahouts and the elephants in providing quality healthcare.
Health and Wellness of Elephants: Currently, we only provide on call services for treatment of elephants. When an elephant owner gets in touch with the team regarding a particular health problem, we respond with the treatment. But what the team has observed is that the overall healthcare of these elephants is neglected. They are not vaccinated, their medical records are not maintained and the team has to treat many elephants with easily preventable diseases. These elephants are also in need for additional nutrition supplements to maintain their health. For a healthy future of these elephants, it is important to provide them with the primary healthcare and wellness. In the past, we have had a health camp which has been successful but was not continued as a regular activity.
Elephants stopped from working: Currently, there are 17 elephants that do not have a mahout for taking care of these elephants. Out of these 17 elephants, 14 have been ordered by the court to not work (indefinitely, until further orders) and 3 are underage. Since, these elephants do not bring in any revenue, the elephant owners have not provided any mahouts for these elephants. Mahouts play an integral part in the well- being of elephants and are constant companions of these elephants. Without a mahout, the well-being of these elephants is being neglected.
Capacity Building of Mahouts: Mahouts are the full time care takers of the Elephants. What used to be a job for a lifetime has been reduced to a low paid job, which can be moved for a small raise. Most mahouts have not been with a single Elephants for an extended period of time and along with this their standards of care are not based on proper training.
Poor Living Spaces: The elephants in Jaipur are divided into two groups, those that live inside of Elephant Village and those that live outside the Amer Fort in sheds. Elephant Village is a 100 acre land provided by the Government with two watering holes. But there are only 55 elephant sheds built in the village, and recently 12 more were built, but these are not enough to house the entire population of Elephants.
Other elephants who live either in sheds outside Amer Fort or in other locations are kept in poor conditions. To begin with, the sheds are not airy or big enough and when the elephants are in the shed, they are chained, stopping the elephants from free movement. It is known that elephants thrive on movement and in their natural habitat, elephants walk and forage for nearly 18 hours a day. Due to this restricted movement, one can find these elephants swaying, which is a sign of stress in these elephants. Also, due to hard flooring, there have been several cases treated by us for abscesses on torso, legs and shoulders.
Heavy Elephant Carriages: These elephants are required to ferry tourists up a slope to reach the main gate of the fort. In order to do this they have a carriage made of wood that is mounted on their backs and tied around their stomachs and from underneath their tails. These carriages weigh almost 100 kilos, if not more. To add to this, there are tourists sitting on these of varying weright. The carriage is tied to them for a major part of the day until they return to their sheds. The ropes are abrasive and cause lesions and cuts around the parts of their body and under their tails. The carriages themselves are old school design and there has been no thought to change this design and lighten the Elephants load.
Integration of Technology: Currently, there is no electronic database of these elephants. It is important to have data of the medical histories, treatments and basic information about these elephants. This could be made accessible to donors and the Forest Department as well, if needed.
This project recived a grant from the Nando Peretti Foundation. It will be carried out following these steps.
Step 1: Meeting the Elephant Owners: Elephant owners are important stakeholders and without their support, not much can be carried forward. Hence, a meeting will be organized wherein the proposed plan will be shared with the owners to garner their support. This meeting will help in receiving suggestions from them about their needs and expectations as well as create a stronger bond with the elephant owners.
Step 2: Set- Up an Office Space: Currently, there is no formal set- up as the team is on field all day treating the elephants and making visits. With the vast number of activities being proposed in the near future, it is important to establish a physical space for the project. This would provide a validation for the project’s presence in the city.
Step 3: Carry Out Proposed Activities: To address each of the issues, different activities have been proposed. Below are the details of each of these activities.
A. Health and Wellness of Elephants
Apart from providing, medical treatment, these elephants require other medical assistance to improve their lifestyle. Since these elephants are far removed from their natural habitat, they are prone to several diseases. Their nature or work or expose them to certain injuries and diseases. Through the below activities, the team will be able to address these issues.
De-worming Camp: To maintain overall wellness of the elephants, all elephants need to be provided deworming bolus (tablets for large elephants). Depending on the weight of the elephants, approximately six boluses are given to each elephants. These de-worming doses are supposed to be given to the elephants once in six months.
To carry out this activity, all elephants have to be given the dose early morning, before they feed. In order to reach out to all the 121 elephants, a week long camp will be set up, wherein the team will personally administer the doses as well as train the mahout to administer the future doses. During the week, a two day camp will be set up at the elephant village and then the team will visit other elephants at other locations.
Anti-Rabies Vaccine (ARVs) and Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Vaccine: All elephants need to be vaccinates against rabies and foot and mouth diseases that are prevalent in elephants. During the treatments, the team has observed high number of elephants with preventable foot and mouth diseases. The elephants need to be vaccinated once a year.
A gap of three months has to be maintained between the de-worming medicine and these vaccines. And a five day gap has to be maintained between the two vaccines. A two week camp will be organized at an accessible place, in to administer these vaccines.
Wellness Camp: It is imperative to maintain a holistic medical record of all the elephants. The team aims to gather the data and then maintain records for future purpose. This will also assist in treating the elephants in future.
A week long wellness camp will be held at an accessible place, wherein, the following will be carried out:
Body Test Score
Nutritional Supplements: Based on the wellness report (weight and body measurements), Mineral and Multivitamin Supplements will be provided for the elephants. These are weekly supplement doses that will be given to the mahout who will administer them to the elephants. Each month, each elephant will be provided one kg of multivitamin and mineral supplements.
B. Elephants that are not working
The 17 unattended elephants are currently being neglected. They require care on an urgent basis. Mahouts will have to be hired and trained to look after these elephants. Out of the 17 elephants, 14 have been ordered to not work by the Court and the other 3 are young elephants and under-age to work.
• Hire 17 Mahouts: To provide care for these 17 elephants, it is proposed that Mahouts are hired and paid a salary to end the neglect towards these elephants. Each elephant requires a mahout who will remain a close companion and a care taker of the mahout.
• Training of New Mahouts: Before the mahouts can start to take care of these elephants, they will receive a training from the vet that works for JEWEL. These mahouts will go through a week long training, that will help them in understanding elephants and welfare of elephants better. They will be trained in aspects like day-to-day care, elephant behavior, etc.
C. Capacity Building of Mahouts
Mahouts are the most crucial stakeholders as they are the closest to the elephants. Elephants rely on the care of the mahouts and they share a very close bond. It becomes important to build their capacity and in the process increase their self- worth for a more sustainable future.
• Foot- Care Training of Mahouts: A Two- Day Foot Care training will be organized for all the mahouts. During this training, the mahouts will be trained to examine the feet of the elephant and follow procedure to keep feel clean and healthy. The training will be conducted by a UK based elephant health specialist who will come to Jaipur and provide this training. This training will be held in batches of 15 mahouts, leading to 8 batches. During both days, brief sessions of 3 hours will be kept in order to not disturb the work schedule of the mahouts and the elephants.
• Positive Reinforcement and Interaction Training: Four trainings year of 1 week each will be arranged on topics like: Management, humane interaction, positive reinforcement, bond of trust. These quarterly trainings for Mahouts have been planned to build their capacity, leading to sustainability. These trainings will be held in batches of 15 Mahouts and will be held for 3 hours every evening. In total, there will be 8 batches of training.
D. Enclosure Enrichment
To improve the living conditions of the elephants, a pilot enclosure will be created that will be suitable to the needs of the elephant. This enclosure will be designed keeping three aspects in mind:
• Flooring: During the course of two years, the team has observed cases of abscesses in foot, on shoulder and on torso. This is because of the hard flooring that the elephants are either continuously standing on or resting on. This can be changed by creating a softer, specialized flooring that will provide comfort to the elephant.
• Air Circulation and Temperature: Jaipur has very high temperatures and the elephants are subjected to sheds with inadequate air supply. It is proposed that a fan is required to be fitted in the enclosure for better air- circulation and decreasing the temperature, bringing relief to the elephant.
• Electric Fencing: The elephants are tied by chains when in the shed. Due to this, the elephants are very stressed are continuously swaying, which is a sign of stress in elephants. Since, elephants are highly intelligent, the elephants will not venture near the electric fence, securing them. At the same time, the electric current will not injure the elephant. This kind of a fence, will allow the elephant to roam freely in the enclosure, matching its natural behavior pattern.
E. Integration of Technology
App Development: A holistic mobile app will be designed that will have all the information regarding all the 121 working elephants. There will be individual profiles for each of the elephants that will include
• Past medical history
• Vaccination records and other
• Basic information like elephant owner, mahout, sex, weight, license number, chip number.
A reporting feature will also be added to the app that will enable users to create reports based on various parameters. The app will be accessible to donors as well, enabling them to monitor the welfare of each elephant.
This project wiil achieve the following goals:
• All 121 Elephants will be vaccinated against rabies and any foot and mouth diseases.
• All 121 Elephants will be de-wormed
• A medical record will be created for all the elephants
• Nutritional supplements will be provided for all elephants
• 17 mahouts will be provided for the currently neglected elephants
• Capacity building of the 121 mahouts
• A pilot enclosure for one elephant, which can be replicated if found effective
• A JEWEL Mobile App