Hyderabad: With their gigantic figure and majestic appearance, elephants have always been magnets for tourists across the country. Hyderabad’s Nehru Zoological Park is no exception when it comes to attracting tourists with pachyderms. Though the forests in Telangana might not be home to elephants, the zoo, which houses five of them, is a special attraction for many, particularly children.

As World Elephant Day is observed on August 12, the elephants there will be celebrating a day devoted to them. The zoo has had a separate enclosure for the elephants spread over eight acres since its inception in 1963. All the five Asiatic elephants here, Vijaya (34), Asha (50), Rajini (50), Seetha (50) and Rani (82) are staying hale and hearty, according to officials.
Rani, gifted to the zoo by the Nizam, had celebrated her 80th birthday in 2018 on a grand scale.

A few weeks ago, Upasana Kamineni Konidela, vice-chairperson of the Apollo Foundation and Apollo Life, adopted Rani for a period of one year by paying Rs 5 lakh. Elephants from the zoo play a key role during important festivals in the city by leading the processions.

For more than a decade, Rajini has been an integral part of the Bonalu festivities in the city and carries the Ghatam, leading the Bonalu Jatara.

According to officials, around Rs 5 lakh is spent on each elephant every year. The daily feed for each elephant includes a staggering 250 kg of grass, sugar cane, jaggery, boiled rice, ghee, groundnut oil and 250 litres of water. “Given their size, children are always attracted to elephants in the zoo. We take a lot of care to make sure they stay healthy,” a senior official said.

Oldest Elephant

The oldest elephant among all zoo parks in the country, 82-year-old Rani has created a record by surviving more than the usual lifespan. The average lifespan of an elephant is 50 years to 60 years while it increases to 60 years to 70 years in captive conditions, but Rani is doing well even at the age of 82 years. This giant tusker, born on October 7, 1938 has been grabbing the attention of the tourists for several decades in the Hyderabad zoo. Rani was felicitated for its achievement.

100 elephants die every year

A report released by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change said at least 500 people and 100 elephants are killed in the country every year due to human-elephant conflicts which include poaching for ivory or meat, electrocution and collision with trains.

India has the largest number of wild Asian Elephants, estimated at 29,964 according to the 2017 census by Project Elephant, i.e. about 60 per cent of the species’ global population. Loss of natural habitat and fragmentation have been bringing wild elephants closer to human habitations, sparking these conflicts, the report said.

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