The elephant task force set up by the environment and forests ministry has recommended discontinuing in a regulated manner the practice of keeping elephants in temples, zoos and circuses.
In its report submitted to Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh Tuesday, the 12-member task force said there are 3,500 captive elephants in the country with 1,200-1,500 of them working in temples.
'It is not possible to put a blanket ban on captive elephants but eventually they have to be phased out. There is a need for some kind of regulation in this respect,' said Mahesh Rangarajan, who heads the task force.
Concerned over the 'poor status' of captive elephants in temples, Ramesh asked the members of the task force to talk to the temple managements.
Initially the task force is likely to hold dialogue with the Guruvayur temple in Kerala which has the highest number of 65 captive elephants.
The panel said India should prevent deadly man-animal conflicts in places where shrinking forests force elephants to enter villages in search of food.
'More than half a million people suffer crop damage due to rampaging elephants each year. Elephants kill more people than those who die in road accidents,' he said.
The report also called for notifying elephant reserves as ecologically sensitive areas under the Environment Protection Act.
The task force also emphasised the need to recruit more people to prevent poaching of elephants.
There are about 25,000 elephants in the country and 88 elephant corridors. India is home to 60 percent of elephants in Asia.
India started Project Elephant in 1992 to provide financial and technical support to the elephant range states in India for the protection of jumbos, their habitat and corridors and address issues of human-animal conflict.