CHENNAI: The issue of death of a three-day old elephant calf in a kraal, a space meant to confine the movement of a captured wild elephant till it obeys the command of the mahout, in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve has snowballed with a contempt petition filed in Madras High Court seeking action against the principal chief conservator of forests and chief wildlife warden.
The petition filed before a bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Satish K Agnihotri and Justice M M Sundresh by E Seshan stated that principal chief conservator of forests Lakshminarayan lied in his earlier counter before the court that there was no large female or large sub-adult elephant in captivity.
The female elephant, which gave birth to a calf on June 4, was obviously in the 13th month of the 22-month pregnancy gestation at the time of capture. Alleging negligence on the part of forest officials, Seshan said the pregnancy was not noticed even at the time of capture.
He said the female elephant was constrained to give birth in kraal, where there is no space even to turn around and in which the elephant cannot also lie down.
He also stated that the male calf born to this female weighed only 40 kg as against a normal baby weight of 100 kg. Even the height of the calf was much lower than average and it could not even reach the mother’s teats.
The calf died on June 7. It happened because of negligence of the forest official besides his subordinates in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, including the veterinary doctor who is posted exclusively to take care of elephants, the contempt petition said.
The judges issued notice to the respondent. Special public prosecutor M K Subramaniam took notice for the respondent. The hearing has been adjourned for two weeks.