In West Bengal, Kumki (tamed) elephants, which work for the state forest division, are treated as state government employees.
What’s interesting is that they also get retirement benefits.
Kumki elephants are used mostly for taming and training of newly captured wild elephants and also to lead away wild elephants that stray into human settlements.
These elephants are used to monitor everyday activities inside a jungle and to provide relief materials to remote areas in case of emergency.
Moreover, Kumki elephants are also used for Jungle safaris.
Due to a scarcity of kunki elephants, the Forest Department has been making even elephants that are 70 years or older work. 70 is the official ‘retirement’ age Kumki elephants, after which they should be taken care of by the Forest Department.
Out of the 156 kumki pachyderms deployed by the state, 70 have crossed that age.
“We are giving training to elephants aged less than 8 years. The process to catch wild elephant(s) will start soon. Generally in this regard, we use those elephants who have come out from their group,” the Additional Chief Forester (Wild Animals) of West Bengal said.
Wild elephants are known to cause damage to crops, human life and property in the districts. Wild elephants have killed over 100 people in the state last year, of which 70 were in south Bengal alone.