Arikomban case: Court appointed panel favours translocation of rice-eating elephant, not captivity

Kerala high-court-appointed committee tasked with deciding the fate of the rice-eating tusker 'Arikomban' decided that the elephant should be translocated and not be captured for being trained to become a 'kumki' elephant.
Arikomban case: Court appointed panel favours translocation of rice-eating elephant, not captivity

Kochi | A high-court-appointed expert committee tasked with deciding the fate of the rice-eating tusker 'Arikomban' decided on Tuesday that the elephant should be translocated and not be captured for being trained to become a 'kumki' elephant, a source said.

The committee, which on Monday visited several areas of Idukki district that have been affected by the activities of the tusker and heard the grievances of the locals, held a meeting here during the day to deliberate on the fate of Arikomban -- so named due to his habit of breaking into homes and ration shops to consume rice.

"After the almost day-long meeting, the panel finally arrived at a consensus that the elephant should be translocated. The committee was not in favour of capturing the tusker for training to become a kumki elephant," the source said.

The committee was of the view that the anxieties and apprehensions of the locals are genuine, the source added.

The panel's decision that the elephant be translocated would find favour with the local residents of Santhanpara, Chinnakanal and other affected grama panchayats bordering the famous hill station of Munnar in Idukki district, as they have been protesting for several days demanding that the tusker be removed from the area.

The committee will be placing its report before a special bench of Justices A K Jayasankaran Nambiar and Gopinath P on Wednesday when the court is scheduled to take up the matter.

The court had constituted the five-member committee on March 29. On the same day, it had also put on hold till April 5 the government's decision to tranquilise and capture the tusker and move it to a cage in Kodanad elephant camp.

The court had also expressed its reservations regarding capture and captivity of the tusker in view of the various instances it had come across of cruelty to captive elephants in Kerala and also the deplorable conditions in which they are held captive in various locations across the State.

On March 23, in a late night sitting, the court stayed the state government's decision to tranquilise and capture the tusker on March 26.

The court's order had come on a PIL by two animal rights groups -- People for Animals (PFA), Trivandum Chapter and the Walking Eye Foundation for Animal Advocacy.

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