Kumki Elephants

News Excerpt: 

To mitigate man-elephant conflict, emerging as a key challenge in Odisha, the state government has sought four Kumki elephants and their mahouts from Tamil Nadu.

Major reasons behind deployment request:

  • The Odisha government’s move comes amid frequent reports of human casualties due to wild elephants attacks. 
    • In Odisha, there have been 230 encounters between humans and elephants in this financial year (2023-24). 
    • In these encounters, 139 humans have been killed and 108 injured. Last financial year, there were 257 encounters in which 146 persons were killed and 157 injured. 
    • According to official figures from Odisha’s forests department, 925 people died and 212 were disabled in human-elephant conflicts in the state in the past 10 years, from 2012-13 to 2021-22. As many as 784 elephants also died in the state during that period.
  • Tamil Nadu has a successful and commendable programme in place, whereby kumki elephants are trained and utilised for wildlife conservation purposes.

Why only Kumki elephants?

  • Kumki elephants can also be deployed for forest patrolling and rescue operations.
  • Kumki is a term used in India for trained captive Asian elephants used in operations to trap wild elephants, sometimes to rescue or to provide medical treatment to an injured or trapped wild elephant. 
  • Kumki elephants can be deployed strategically to manage and drive wild elephants thereby reducing damage to crops, human habitations and the potential loss of both human and elephant lives. 
  • These elephants can serve as an invaluable asset to the State's wildlife organization, by helping in minimizing the conflicts and safeguarding both human and wildlife interests.

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