Bowing to demand, the Tamil Nadu government on Monday decided not to turn a translocated wild elephant, which continues to venture into villages near Pollachi in Coimbatore district, into a kumki (a trained elephant).
Instead, the Forest Department officials will let the elephant into the forests with the help of two kumki elephants.
The government’s decision, which is a volte face of its earlier statement that the elephant would be turned into kumki soon, was conveyed to the Madras High Court which sought its opinion on a petition filed by an animal rights activist. The petition opposed the government move to turn Chinnathambi, the more than 20-year-old elephant, into kumki.
The elephant, which had been venturing into villages very often due to enroachments in the Elephant Corridor, was captured and translocated near Top Slip after it was fitted with a radio collar to track its location. The elephant is now near Varagaliar forest near Top Slip after it was driven out from the forests of Thadagam valley, its home turf.
“We are continuously monitoring the elephant and it has not been violent in the past few days. The jumbo is very calm,” a forest department official said.
The government’s volte face came after it’s decision was resented by people and animal rights activists – Forest Minister Dindigul C Sreenivasan had announced that the jumbo would be trained.
Animal rights activist Antony Rubin, who has filed several petitions in the High Court highlighting animal rights, told DH that the jumbo began venturing into villages only because the Elephant Corridor had become a hub of encroachments. “The elephant is not known to kill or disturb anyone. He is an aggressive male elephant, marching towards the place he belongs to,” he told DH.
Social media abuzz
Activists said the wildlife authorities should consider translocating Chinnathambi along with another elephant Vinayaga so that both have each other’s company. Rubin said they opposes turning the elephant into kumki since the process is very cruel.
“The entire training process is very cruel, and it involves trashing and starvation. The elephant has to go through an inhumane process. The government should relocate the elephant since it has enough funds,” he said.
Social media is also abuzz with #SaveChinnaThambi campaign with several users on Twitter and Facebook demanding that the government does not go ahead with the move to turn the elephant into kumki.