TIRUPUR: With Madras High Court ordering a status quo on the case related to Chinna Thambi until next hearing scheduled for February 11, over a 100 Forest department officials have camped at Krishnapuram near Madathukulam for the fourth day to monitor Chinna Thambi. Ajay Desai, a consultant to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and member of Asian elephants specialist group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, has been roped in to study the tusker and submit a report to the Chief Wildlife Warden.
At Krishnapuram, Chinna Thambi has been found to be very unlike his Thadagam-self. Having gotten used to the place and the people, he has displayed much behavioural change. Surrounded by two kumkis and so many people, he has stayed put, reported Ajay. Chinna Thambi seemed to have struck a bond with kumki Kaleem. However, he appeared to be intimidated by Mariappan. Ajay was set to interact with officials on the ground to collect more details of Chinna Thambi’s behaviour before turning in his report.
There were enough officials on the scene, round the clock. Three teams of Forest staff have been posted on the watch — while two teams keep up the vigil, a third one would rest. While the tusker showed no sign of moving out of the area, even his brief wanderings had the staff on their toes all day long. While he was usually joined by Mariappan and Kaleem in the night hours, the kumkis have not managed to get him back into the forest, said one Forest staff.
Madathukulam Tahsildar K Kalavathi, who was at the spot, said that they were sending daily reports to the government. When contacted, District Forest Officer P K Dileep remarked that only the court can comment on the issue as it was sub judice. He did mention that the pond in the land, where Chinna Thambi had been lounging in the first two days, was cleared of water and closed on Tuesday. The artificial pond established by the department now catered to the three elephants.
Though the 24-acre land has turned out to be an ideal spot for Chinna Thambi’s unplanned sojourn, it has not been all that convenient of the land owner — Amaravathi Cooperative Sugar Mills. According to sources, the management of the Mill was likely to claim compensation from Tamil Nadu Cooperative Society for the destruction at the property. Chinna Thambi had ravaged some of the crops and the fencing there.
Make hay while the jumbo stays?
Making good use of the huge crowd constantly present at the ‘jumbo site’ was this enterprising mango seller. She set up a makeshift shop and drew a crowd to rival that of the elephant’s. Kanagavalli usually sold mangoes on the roadside. When she wanted to see Chinna Thambi for herself, she brought her produce along. Given that there was no shop in the vicinity, she was a hit and made quite some money.
Quite the showstopper
Despite the possibility of danger (he was a wild elephant, after all), people gathered in the hundreds to catch a glimpse of the neighbourhood jumbo. A few Forest staff had to be posted exclusively on crowd control. People of all ages thronged the area for their fill of the elephant sighting. Karmukilan, a class I student who arrived at the spot with his father after school hours, was happy to have seen Chinna Thambi — at a distance — throwing mud on himself. For 45-year-old man Sadhasivam, it was the rarest of the things to see the tusker playing by himself. Villagers too had noticed that his behaviour had changed from what they had heard about him over the news. He had not disturbed anyone in the village, they reported.