CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Friday refused to stay Tamil Nadu forest department's move to capture wild elephant Rivaldo, which is currently in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve.
After counsel for the forest department submitted that the elephant was being captured only to provide medical treatment and it cannot breathe properly due to holes in its trunk, the first bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy directed the forest department to file a status report in four weeks and adjourned the hearing without any issuing restraining orders.
T Murugavel, a professor, had filed a PIL seeking to forebear the authorities from capturing the elephant in the Sigur plateau of Nilgiris district. According to him, Rivaldo is a gentle elephant tolerant to human presence unlike other wild elephants. A decade ago the elephant suffered an injury in the tip of its trunk. It led the elephant getting habituated to being fed with fruits, sugarcane and coconuts by the local residents.
“The owners of resorts in the area started luring Rivaldo to their resorts with the aim of entertaining their guests. Feeding wildlife is a prohibited activity under the Wildlife Protection Act but no apparent effort was made by the forest department to check the same. This apart, the injury suffered by the tusker got healed naturally and it has got back into its natural foraging pattern. But now, the forest department is trying to capture the tusker for rehabilitating it," the petitioner said.
It is also said that Rivaldo is captured as a precautionary measure since he is familiar with humans who might injure him in the future, the petitioner added.
Pointing out the recent death of an elephant in the same area which was set on fire by a resort owner, the petitioner contended that the forest department instead of preventing people from feeding the elephant they are trying to capture the animal.