It appeared to be a well-strategised move by the forest department to translocate Arikomban from Chinnakanal in Munnar to Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR). While debates rage over whether it will stay there or move back, what is significant is that it has been moved to a place where food and water is in abundance. But more striking, according to sources in the department, is that it is also a move that can counter inbreeding depression or reduction in the biological fitness of the elephant population there. There is big scope for genetic exchange. Arikomban's arrival can create good genetic diversity, say wildlife experts.
Bull elephants are generally solitary and in the case of Arikomban, an Alpha tusker, there is little chance for conflict, but for the natural fight for genetic selection. Compared to other elephants in PTR, Arikomban is sturdy and stronger and so should, hopefully, make its home there with a good number of cow elephants in the area.
The land conditions are similar to Chinnakkanal with grasslands further down. PTR has lush vegetation, grasslands and bamboo forests and plenty of water, making it ideal for elephants.
Arikomban has been translocated near Mullakudi and has three routes for movement - one through Manakavala, a flat terrain, towards landing point coming closer to people. It can move through Medhakanam towards Churli in Tamil Nadu. It can cross Mullakudi and move towards Vallakadavu and Periyar right into the dense forests where the connectivity is high right up to Achankovil.