Bengal elephants to receive pension
Elephants of the West Bengal forest department will, henceforth, be
eligible for pension benefits.
The benefits, to be provided on attaining superannuation at age 65, comprise good food, shelter and health care facilities.
About 30 elephants stationed in Jaldapara, Gorumara and
other north Bengal forests have been shortlisted for the scheme. As a first step, the forest department will introduce service books for the pachyderms in which relevant data like age, behaviour patterns, areas of
specialisation and records of meritorious services will be noted.
The department employs these trained animals -- kunkis -- mainly for chasing, trapping and capturing wild elephants. They are also used to scare away other animals which might threaten human lives or property.
Records show that most 'staff' elephants die
while in service. At present, two elephants have reached retirement
age. The pension scheme will see to it they enjoy a quiet life without any
assignments, unlike in the past when they were engaged in light work
or sold off to circus troupes.