THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Every issue related to elephants — wild or captive — will snowball into a controversy in Kerala, as the state is very sensitive to matters of the Schedule-1 animal. Invariably, the forest department's move to take two pachyderms from the elephant camps at Kodanad and Konni to Muthumalai elephant training camp too met with stiff opposition.
However, unlike in the past, the department has managed to take the elephants to Wayanad and the two elephants, along with one stationed at the Wayanad camp, will be taken to Theppakadu elephant camp in the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, near Udhagamandalam in Tamil Nadu for a three-month rigorous training programme, at the end of which they would come out as trained kumki elephants.
Anjankumar, WCF, Palakkad, told The Sunday Standard that the forest department is facing a shortage of trained kumki elephants, even as the elephant population is thriving in the forests of Kerala and there is a consequent rise in man-elephant conflict in the forest fringe areas. At present, the department is equipped with only two kumki elephants to chase the crop raiding rogue elephants back into the forest.
If the three elephants are joined as kumki elephants in the department’s arsenal, it can be better positioned in terms of calming the frayed nerves of people who live in the man-animal conflict-prone areas. Moreover, the seriousness of the issue can be fathomed from the fact that around 30 elephants were killed in the forests of Kerala in last one year as part of retaliatory killing by the people. “So, it is highly imperative to raise the base stock of the kumki elephants to drive back the rogue elephants in vulnerable areas. It doesn’t mean that it is the only solution to address the man-animal conflict,” Anjankumar said.
30 ELEPHANTS KILLED IN ONE YEAR
■ Around 30 elephants were killed in the forests of Kerala in retaliatory killing in last one year
■ At present, the dept has only two Kumki elephants
■ Dept would give Kumki training to three elephants at Theppakadu Elephant Camp in the Mudumalai ■ After a rise in man-animal conflict in Kerala, the state govt increased compensation for loss of life D5 lakhs to D10 lakhs, recently
■ The compensation for crop loss due to marauding wild animals has also been increased to D75,000
■ Earlier, the dept bid to relocate a captured rogue elephant ‘Bharathan SI’ failed after stiff public opposition