COIMBATORE: Unwitting tourists and the locals at Masinagudi and its surroundings may be in harm's way, fear the officials of the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) in the Nilgiris.
The cause of their fear is Rivaldo, a gentle giant christened by the people, who feed and take selfies with the jumbo, unaware of the lurking dangers. Advising caution, the officials have urged the people to avoid feeding or taking selfies with the wild elephant.
Though conceding that Rivaldo appeared to be a calm elephant, Deputy Director of MTR (Masinagudi) LCS Srikanth feared that one could not discount the threat of his causing damage to property or injuring/killing people, in case he was mentally or physically disturbed. He said that people should give the elephant a wide berth and inform the officials concerned about his presence in residential areas.
"Apart from tourists and people in Masinagudi, those in Mavanallah, Bokkapuram, Vaalaithottam and Sigur buffer areas of the MTR, have started taking selfies with Rivaldo after parking their vehicles on the road. Apart from causing traffic congestion, it also disturbs the animal. This has been happening for the past four years. People christened the wild elephant Rivaldo as the animal has developed a bonding with the people after receiving food from them. No incident of property damage or loss of life has been attributed to Rivaldo so far," he said.
Srikanth said that Rivaldo had sustained injuries to his trunk in a fight with a wild elephant on August 7, 2015. He was administered treatment and put under care for two months. After the incident, Rivaldo started approaching residential areas, and accepting food offered. This led to people taking selfies with the elephant, a development that has left the forest officials uneasy over