The Assam government on Thursday said 97 elephants have been sent to other states since 2006 mostly for “religious activities”, with many pachyderms “over-staying” their period of lease.
The elephants are sent for a period of two-three years to other states, including Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnakata, West Bengal, Haryana, Odisha and Jharkhand, Environment and Forest Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary said in the assembly.
In reply to an unstarred question by Congress leader Debabrata Saikia, Patowary said the captive elephants were sent from the Doomdoma Forest Division of Assam.
The Assam government has been in touch with other states over the matter, he said.
“… Letters are written to the respective states from time to time to return the elephants,” the minister said.
In response to a separate question by Congress MLA Rekibuddin Ahmed, Patowary said 80 animals have been transferred from the Assam State Zoo, Guwahati, to different states under the animal exchange programme between 2012 and 2022.
These include rhinos, Royal Bengal tigers, hillock gibbons and leopard cats.
During the same period, the state acquired 83 animals from different zoos.
Minister Patowary also said there were 1,196 animals in the state zoo here as on March 31, 2022, comprising 551 mammals, 381 birds and 264 reptiles.
Among these, 532 belong to endangered species, he added.