COIMBATORE: The 48-day-long annual rejuvenation camp for captive elephants commenced across the Tamil Nadu, on Thursday.
Tamil Nadu Forest Minister Dindigul C Sreenivasan inaugurated the camp at Theppakkadu in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) in The Nilgiris district in the presence of Collector Innocent Divya and forest department officials.
Among the 62 captive elephants, 27 each in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) and Anamalai Tiger Reserve (ATR), two each in Chadivayal elephant camp in Coimbatore district and Anna Zoological Park in Chennai and four elephants at Tiruchy elephant rehabilitation centre are taking part in the camp that is held at the respective places.
The elephants are maintained to assist the forest department in driving away wild elephants that enter into farmlands and human habitats. Also, these animals are engaged in elephant safari and as well as being used for patrolling operations inside the reserve forest.
Officials from the Forest Department stated that they will not engage the animals for a safari in MTR and ATR or for patrolling till the camp concludes. However, the animals are likely to be engaged for driving away wild elephants in case of an emergency.
According to sources, the state government has allocated Rs 70 lakh to procure special food that will be provided for the 62 elephants till March 22, when the camp concludes. Last year, the government had spent Rs 64.7 lakh for conducting the annual rejuvenation camp for 52 captive elephants across the State.
According to an official, the animals will be provided with horse gram, ragi, rice, salt, jaggery, vitamin tonic, mineral mixture, astasooranam, etc, during the camp.
Forest Minister Dindigul C Sreenivasan said that MTR camp
began in 1927 and it is the biggest of its kind in the country. He added that the forest department is conducting the annual rejuvenation camp since 2013 based on former chief minister J Jayalalithaa's orders.
The animals are being assessed by veterinary doctors and based on their recommendations mahouts and kavadis are taking care of the animals round the clock, he stated.
MTR Field Director KK Kaushal, said, "The camp helps elephants overcome the stress of captivity and restricted raising. Minor health issues that crop up due to the way they are being raised will also get cured during the camp. The credit for the camp goes to former chief minister J Jayalalithaa."