Ker govt to set up Rs 105 cr elephant rehab centre

Ker govt to set up Rs 105 cr elephant rehab centre

Mahouts bathe elephants at the Elephant Rehabilitation Centre in Kottoor, near Thiruvananthapuram. (PTI Photo)

The Kerala government would set up a first-of-its-kind elephant rehabilitation centre here at an outlay of Rs 105 crore, to take care of jumbos, which were either orphaned or abandoned.

Kottoor, an ecotourism village situated nearly 35 km from here, would soon host the country's first-ever elephant rehabilitation centre. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had inaugurated phase 1 of the project last month.

The rehab centre would house an elephant museum, mahout training centre, a well-equipped veterinary hospital and crematorium for the pachyderms. Former wildlife warden Shajikumar told PTI that the facility intends to take care of the orphaned or abandoned elephants.

"The centre can accommodate 50 elephants, and a residential facility for 80 mahouts has been arranged. There will be administration blocks, tourist cafeteria spread over 56 hectares of land," Shajikumar, who formerly headed the project said.

The Kottoor elephant rehabilitation centre is also planning to accommodate aged captive elephants. P S Easa, a member of the three-member technical committee of Koottoor elephant rehabilitation centre said the project was a comprehensive programme to provide an opportunity to study elephants.

Elaborating, he said, the main objective was to ensure that elephants, which are orphaned or abandoned could be provided with a facility for better treatment.

"Basically rehabilitation involves sending the jumbos back into the wild. But these days its quite difficult to implement. If a wild elephant is caught in Wayanad, the locals may not agree to release it back there itself. In such cases, this Kottor rehabilitation centre can take care of them," he said.

Noting that the rehabilitation centre would facilitate a lot of research, a PhD scholar of National Institute of Advanced Studies, Banglore, Sreedhar Vijayakrishnan said, "The facility will help us understand the anatomy and physiology of the elephants. This will facilitate a lot of research.."

The research scholar also said it was possible to offer specialised care to the elephants. According to records, there are 507 captive elephants in the state.

Vijayakrishnan pointed out that being in a semi-wild set up is the major advantage of the facility. "The captive animals suffer a lot from stress and stress, in turn, affects their digestive process, immune responses, reproductive systems and all. So this place will provide a natural habitat and reduce stress. So by reducing stress, we can give them effective care and cure for the animals," he said.