Kumki Kaleem retires after 99 successful operations

Tamil Nadu’s superstar kumki Kaleem, will not have to engage in the onerous task of controlling rogue elephants from Wednesday.
Kumki Kaleem and Chinna Thambi playing at Krishnapuram near Madathukulam in Udumalai | Express
Kumki Kaleem and Chinna Thambi playing at Krishnapuram near Madathukulam in Udumalai | Express

COIMBATORE: Tamil Nadu’s superstar Kumki Kaleem, will not have to engage in the onerous task of controlling rogue elephants from Wednesday. He retired from the service of the forest department on Tuesday, and will spend the rest of his life relaxing in an elephant camp. Kaleem was first brought to Kozhikamuthi camp in 1972 after he separated from his herd in Sathymangalam Tiger Reserve (STR).

Supriya Sahu, additional chief secretary, environment, climate change and forests along with chief wildlife warden Srinivas R Reddy, field director of Anamalai Tiger Reserve S Ramasubramanian gave a farewell to Kaleem at the Kozhikamuthi camp. The staff of Ulanthy forest range gave a guard of honour to Kaleem, and he reciprocated their gesture by raising his trunk and trumpeting. “Our eyes are wet and hearts are full with gratitude as Kaleem an iconic kumki elephant of Tamil Nadu retired at the age of 60,” Supriya tweeted.    

The eight-foot-tall, five-tonne behemoth has taken part in 99 rescue operations in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and West Bengal in the last three decades. Recollecting his association with Kaleem, his mahout Mani said, “Kaleem could have crossed 100 operations but he was not involved to capture the wild elephant Bahubali near Mettupalayam last year.”

Supriya Sahu appreciated Mani for taking care of Kaleem like his younger brother. Talking about Kaleem, Supriya told TNIE that the department always had faith in him as he would complete an operation successfully. “He is a legend, icon and Banyan tree of all other elephants in the camp,” she exclaimed. 

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