GUWAHATI, Nov 20 - The State Forest Department has resumed efforts to transport four elephants to a temple in Gujarat, a decision it had �kept in abeyance� in June following protests, court intervention and objection from experts.
In fact, a fresh expert committee constituted by the government on Tuesday has said that the present weather condition was suitable to transport four elephants to Gujarat.
However, the committee headed by Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Director Dr PC Das, said it would examine the health of the elephants �in-situ� before giving its go-ahead.
The other members of the committee are Dr Gauranga Mahato of College of Veterinary Science, Forest Vet Dr Bijoy Kumar Gogoi, and veterinary officers Dr Debabrata Phukan and Dr Pranjit Barua.
The committee has proposed to examine the elephants in the first week of December and has asked the forest department to make necessary arrangements for it.
According to the earlier permission issued by the wildlife warden, the elephants that were to be transported were Joytara and Rupsing owned by Piyal Moran of Digboi, Rani owned by Jogi Nath Pegu of Tinsukia and Babulal owned by Moneswar Moran of Doomdooma.
Interestingly, after doubts were raised that two of the four elephants were not captive born, the Inspector General attached to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change who is also the Project Elephant Director has instructed the State�s chief wildlife warden to conduct a probe into the antecedents of the animals. The �Indian Elephant� is a Schedule-I animal under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, and Section 9 of the Act prohibit capture of elephants from the wild.
Sources told this newspaper that one of the elephants has an injury inflicted by a bullet, raising the doubts that it was captured and not captive born. According to the source, the DNA sample tests of the elephants are yet to come.
Following a PIL against the move, the Gauhati High Court had in June directed the forest department to pass a fresh order to transport the elephants considering �all aspects�.
Two expert committees had opposed the decision � one had cited various guidelines from the Central Zoo Authority and Project Elephant and another had cited the heat conditions in June which might lead to the elephants suffering heat strokes.
The elephants were to be taken to Jagannathji Temple in Ahmedabad in train.