‘Bharatan SI’ translocation poses a jumbo problem (Kochi, India)


Dhinesh Kallungal, New Indian Express

Date Published

The fate of the rogue elephant ‘Bharatan SI’ captured from Wayanad hangs in the balance as the Forest Department is divided over the move to translocate the jumbo to Parambikulam.

Besides, the turf war within the department has been instrumental in grounding the animal’s translocation, a first-of-its-kind initiative in Kerala. A sizeable section of the forest officials is against the translocation of the wild elephant since they believe it will not address the issue effectively.

Not only that, the foresters apprehend the elephant will create further trouble in Parambikulam where crop-raiding by the wild elephants is comparatively a minor threat.
However, Additional Chief Secretary P Mara Pandiyan is for translocating the elephant to Parambikulam since there is stiff opposition to its release in the Wayanad forests. He is also not in favour of chaining Bharatan at the elephant kraal in Muthanga.  

Several wildlife activists too back the move since it will enable the wild tusker to roam free inside its natural habitat. However, a section of the forest officials was of the  view if the 27-year-old bull elephant was made a kumki elephant it would be an asset for the Forest Department.

The jumbo’s major advantage is that it has better vision and sound knowledge of the forest, unlike the normal kumki elephants.
The department can make use of the elephant in the areas prone to crop-raid by the wild elephants and to chase the wild animals back into the forest.
Even the expert committee which looked into the issue was against translocating the elephant to Parambikulam. Besides, the decision on translocating the elephant was supposed to be taken by the chief wildlife warden and the Additional Chief Secretary’s intervention has virtually annoyed a section of the officials.

Despite the pressure from various quarters, the Additional Chief Secretary was determined to move the elephant to Parambikulam. Even though the officers were all set to ferry the elephant to Parambikulam after tranquilising it, the idea had to be dropped following the fierce opposition.

Pathetic condition
Now, the condition of Bharatan SI — the jumbo was given a set of tranquilising and booster shots in quick succession — which once spread terror among the villagers in Kallur and Muthanga is pathetic.
Prior to this, the elephant had received tranquilising shots as part of fitting the radio collar.  
The elephant is kind of sedated and the physical taming at the kraal has made the jumbo weak. It is also not known whether the elephant will be taken to Parambikulam at a later stage or if it will be made a kumki.