Turning elephant into kumki triggers protest

Representative image

Tamil Nadu Government’s move to turn a translocated wild elephant, which continues to venture into villages near Pollachi in Coimbatore district, into a kumki (a trained elephant) has been met with stiff resistance from animal rights activists and the general public.

Chinnathambi, the more than 20-year-old elephant, had been venturing into villages very often due to enroachments in the Elephant Corridor. However, the elephant was captured and translocated near Top Slip after it was fitted with a radio collar to track his 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 behaving violent in the past few days. The jumbo is very calm, and we are monitoring its movement,” a forest department official said.

The government’s move to turn the elephant into a kumki has not gone down well with the public and animal rights activists – Forest Minister Dindigul C Sreenivasan has announced that the jumbo will be turned into a training elephant.

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 for encroachments. “The elephant is not known to killing or disturbing anyone. He is an aggressive male elephant and it is marching towards the place where it belongs to,” he told DH.

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 oppose 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.

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