Suttur Mutt returns 2 jumbos to Forest dept

Suttur Mutt returns 2 jumbos to Forest dept

Suttur Mutt returns 2 jumbos to Forest dept

The authorities of the Suttur Mutt, on Monday, returned two elephants which were in their possession to the government, following a request from Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi during her recent visit to the Mutt.

Maneka, had visited the Mutt on October 28, to take part in the valedictory of the golden jubilee celebrations of the JSS College of Arts, Commerce and Science. She had asked for a gift from seer Shivaratri Deshikendra Swami that the elephants be returned to their natural habitat.

Kamala Karikalan, executive director of the Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens, took charge of the elephants — Drona and Champa — on behalf of the government.

The Mutt, in the late 1990s, volunteered to take care of an orphaned elephant from Nagarahole forest, as its mother died immediately after its birth. The jumbo, named Maasti by the Mutt, was adopted through the zoo.

A couple of years later, Lakshmi was purchased from Kerala to pair with Maasti. As religious institutions are allowed to exchange animals with the Forest department, Maasti and Lakshmi were exchanged for Drona and Champa from Bannergatta National Park (BNP) in 2014.

At present Maasti is at Thithimathi elephant camp, Virajpet taluk, Kodagu district, while Lakshmi is at BNP.

The Central Zoo Authority had issued a circular to all zoo authorities across the country, asking them to assess the condition of captive elephants and had directed them to take back elephants under the possession of religious organisations and mutts. Thus, the Zoo Authority of Karnataka had been seeking possession of the elephants from Suttur Mutt.

Kamala said the elephants would be shifted to the zoo rehabilitation centre at Koorgalli in the city and that arrangements had been made to provide food and shelter to the elephants.

However, transportation of the jumbos from the Mutt to Koorgalli was a daunting task as they refused to climb onto the truck brought by the Forest department.

With great difficulty, the elephants were transferred onto the truck and shifted by forest officials A V Satish, B R Ramesh, K R Ramesh, assisted by veterinarians Dr K V Madan and Dr D N Nagaraj.