Coimbatore's notorious bad boy Chinna Thambi now guards Arisiraja at Varagaliyar

Arisiraja is now being lodged in a krall and Chinna Thambi, famous kumkis Kaleem, Ram and some female elephants are standing guard around his krall from a distance. 
Veterinarian NS Manokaran monitoring Arisiraja at a Krall in Varagaliyar in ATR. (Photo | Special arrangement)
Veterinarian NS Manokaran monitoring Arisiraja at a Krall in Varagaliyar in ATR. (Photo | Special arrangement)

COIMBATORE: Remember Chinna Thambi? The supporters of Thadagam's enfant terrible from across Tamil Nadu had put up posters and created hashtags to "Save Chinna Thambi'. Well now, Chinna Thambi, as singular an elephant as ever, is firmly part of the Establishment, forest officers reveal. 

After being relocated from the countryside of Tirupur district in February, Chinna Thambi was kept in a krall. The job of taming the wild elephant and making it obey human commands was left to mahouts and kavadis belongs to the tribal community. Using knowledge gathered over generations of handling elephants, they use only a stick to manage the wild jumbos

The twist in the tale, though, is that the former bad boy has now gone good and is among the elephants standing guard for the rice-raiding Arisiraja who caused the death of at least four people before being captured and relocated to Varagaliyar a few days ago. 

Arisiraja is now being lodged in a krall and Chinna Thambi, famous kumkis Kaleem, Ram and some female elephants are standing guard around his krall from a distance. 

Chinna Thambi now
Chinna Thambi now

"These elephants eat grass in the forests in the day and gather at night to safeguard Arisiraja. We have placed five elephants, including Chinnathambi, around so that Arisiraja feels like it is living among elephants," said AS Marimuthu, Deputy Director of Anamalai Tiger Reserve under which Varagaliyar falls.

Noting that Chinna Thambi remains unusual even in captivity, Marimuthu said that unlike other captive elephants, it is quite active, walking faster than others. "As a result, we have double-chained its front legs to restrict its speed. However, Chinna Thambi yet to complete its training with the mahouts and Kavadis," he said, adding that the tribal experts are still working with the jumbo. 

As for the rice-loving Arisiraja, it has been in a krall for three days now and its diet is quite varied. "Like other captive elephants, we have been providing Arisiraja cooked rice, ragi, green fodder, horse gram, jaggery, salt, coconut and sugarcane. Usually, a few pieces of sugarcane would be provided to the captive elephants in the morning and evening. However, we have been giving Arisiraja sugarcane and coconut more frequently to help tame the jumbo. The mahouts leave the sugarcane inside the krall and the animal is taking it," he said. 

In a few days, mahouts will start feeding Arisiraja the sugarcane and coconut in such a way that the animal will take the treats in its trunk. "This will help bond Arisiraja to mahouts and kavadis," Marimuthu said. Although Arisiraja is not aggressive any longer and eating its food, it still charges when mahouts and kavadis get too close, he said.

Mahouts and kavadis will start giving commands to Arisiraja only in another two or three weeks. The focus, at present, is on keeping the animal calm and preventing it from injuring itself in the wooden enclousre. 

Chinnathambi was lodged in a krall in February and was released, after four months of training, at the end of June. Arisiraja, which has also injured seven people including two forest staff in the last three years, was tranquilised and captured at Andiyur near Arthanaripalayam in Pollachi on November 13 and lodged in a krall the next day.

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